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I have been working on sustainability topics at the adidas Group for more than 13 years now, and ever since, we report publicly about social and environmental initiatives, targets, successes and challenges. Today, I am happy to tell you that we have launched our fourteenth Sustainability Progress Report called ‘FAIR PLAY’, which not only explains the rationale behind the title, but also gives an insight into the diverse areas of sustainability at the adidas Group in a story-telling way.

With the experience of fourteen reports produced during my time at the adidas Group, I can assure you thatsustainability reporting is more than talking about facts and figures – because the world of sustainability is too manifold and diverse to be simply put in numbers. And it’s too important to be only told in jargon to experts instead of reaching out to the normal person on the street.

What really counts for me are the stories behind those numbers – what exactly does an auditor do when he works with a factory and monitors its workforce and business processes; how can a worker communicate with his employer in a way that he is heard; what does it mean when multiple brands partner and collaborate to change the industry; what is involved in employee volunteering around the world; and how can we, overall, have a positive impact on the environment?

Number of suppliers the adidas Group worked with in 2013.

Number of suppliers the adidas Group worked with in 2013.

Don’t get me wrong – facts and figures are an essential part of any sustainability report, but in the end it all comes down to the work on the ground and the changes we as a company initiate and achieve to make this world a better place.

For 2013, again, we collected numerous sustainability stories from all over the business. The Report talks, for example, about diversity initiatives at the adidas Group, an improved system to address human rights complaints, our employer branding project, the successful DryDye technology and virtualisation projects, our ambition to reduce the environmental footprint with our Green Company initiatives and our community project in Brazil. Please take your time and browse through the report .

But my personal highlight story in this year’s report is the one about our supplier ‘framas’ who has developed a new sustainable material to be used in heel counters for our adidas footwear products.

The heel counter is a little insert in the heel area of the shoe. It is rigid so that it supports and stabilises the wearer’s heel inside the shoe. You can’t see the heel counter though; it’s internal and covered on both sides by material.

From the moment I first heard about this initiative, I was curious and wanted to learn more. So I talked to the supplier who told me that the heel counters they produce for us from the spring/summer 2014 collection onwards will contain more than 50% recycled content made of old food packaging.

‘framas’ transforms waste into sustainable material.

‘framas’ transforms waste into sustainable material.

Wow, the idea that drinking cups, or any other packaging that is made of polystyrene can end up in the sneaker you wear is just fantastic. And of course, you don’t have to make any compromise in terms of quality, fit and wear because together with the supplier we ensure that this so-called Framaprene® ECO heel counter material passes the strict adidas tests.

Overall, from spring/summer 2014 onwards, ‘framas’ will produce 110 million pairs of heel counters a year for the adidas Group, which means that they will divert 1,500 tonnes of polystyrene waste from landfill sites every year.

It’s difficult to compare this amount or to visualise how big the pile of rubbish must be; but for sure, 1,500tonnes of waste is a lot!

I am happy that we can report about initiatives like this one and that, together with our suppliers, the adidas Group is striving to improve not only its positive environmental impacts but also its overall sustainable footprint!