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Sustainable products and services

Our aim is to make the best products and services in our industry. We want to support healthy lifestyles by helping our customers enjoy sport and improve their sporting performance. We also want to develop products in a way that minimizes environmental and social impacts at every stage of their life cycle, including design, production processes and business operations.

Scientific research

At ASICS, research is the starting point for sustainable product development. Our research includes environmental life cycle assessments (LCA) on our products and processes, and analysis of materials and components. We are also using LCA as a tool to continue building our awareness of the social impacts across the value chain. Read more about the Social LCA

We conduct scientific research continuously both within the ASICS Institute of Sport Science and in collaboration with renowned external research partners. Two areas of intense research interest at the ASICS Institute of Sport Science are environmentally sustainable materials and manufacturing technologies that improve energy efficiency, resource conservation and product durability and recyclability.

PRODUCT Development Principles

The results of our research feed into our approach to product design and development. Towards 2015, this approach includes the development of industry-leading sustainable materials and manufacturing processes, and a reduction of CO2 emissions from manufacturing. Three principles guide our approach to sustainable product development:

CLEAN

We promote sustainable materials and processes, increase recycled content in our products and packaging, and substitute materials and processes with cleaner alternatives (for example, substituting solvent-based adhesives with water based technologies).

EFFICIENT

We use materials and energy efficiently. We make products with energy-efficient manufacturing technologies and reduce waste – for example, by consolidating and reducing the number of individual parts in a product, through more efficient processes and by improving pattern efficiency.

DURABLE

We extend the life of our products by using more durable materials. We also promote the reuse and repair of our products, and the recovery of materials for recycling.

Our approach to sustainable product development is aligned with the Higg Index, a tool to assess sustainability throughout a product’s life cycle. The index was developed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), an industry-wide group working to reduce the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products around the world. ASICS is a founding member of SAC.

SAFETY and quality

We aim to uphold the highest standards of quality throughout a product’s life, from the development to the moment it reaches our customers. We carry out random inspections at our suppliers’ operations to ensure we avoid using inappropriate materials.

We test the safety and quality of products and materials in a variety of ways, including durability tests, product structure tests, colourfastness tests and chemical analyses. These tests are conducted both within our own organization and by external laboratories.

Product safety and quality guidelines, including our ASICS Guideline for the Control and Use of Chemicals, elaborate on our standards regarding products and processes and ensure our products meet relevant product safety and environmental laws and regulations.

ASICS is a member of the Apparel and Footwear International RSL Management Group (AFIRM Group), which is working to reduce the use and impact of harmful substances in the apparel and footwear supply chain.

Read more in our latest Sustainability report

Read more about the ASICS Institute of Sport Science



ONGOING RESEARCH – PRODUCT LCA

We are committed to using Product Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to build industry knowledge of the broader environmental and social impacts of our products

At ASICS, research is the starting point for our product development. We use Product Life Cycle Assessment to look at our environmental impacts across the value chain and this helps us to identify priority areas for improvement, such as increasing product durability and lifetime for consumers, or switching to more sustainable materials to reduce impacts in the supply chain. Our first Product Environmental Life Cycle Assessment looked at the ASICS GEL-KAYANO 17 in 2011.

In the long term we intend to broaden our LCA approach to include both environmental and social aspects. These aspects should not be viewed in isolation; however it remains a challenge to combine them effectively. Environmental LCA has existed for a long time but Social LCA is a rapidly developing discipline with international best-practice guidelines but without detailed protocols.

ASICS GEL-Kayano 21 Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA) Scan

In 2014 we conducted our first S-LCA Scan based on one of our top-selling products; the 21st edition of the iconic KAYANO running shoe. This shoe is manufactured in China, from materials and components sourced from China as well as Japan, Taiwan and the USA. Its supply chain is similar to other ASICS footwear. The purpose was to use S-LCA to identify priority areas within the supply chain and to refine our existing CSR & Sustainability management practices. The traditional Supplier Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Auditing topics are included e.g. labour conditions however broader community issues such as governance, human rights and infrastructure are also included. Supply chain responsibility in its broadest sense can extend beyond the workplace e.g. caring for workers’ general welfare and development.

The S-LCA Scan was based on a social risk profile developed using the Social Hotspot Database (SHDB)* (www.http://socialhotspot.org/) which pinpoints sectors in each country that are generally associated with high risk of low social standards or even misconduct. A limitation of this risk-focused approach is that it excludes positive social effects such as employment and community engagement.

The results showed that 50% of the accumulated product social risk is associated with shoe manufacture. Another 21% of the accumulated social risk is associated with the production of plastics in the chemical sector in China and 7% with coal mining in China. Coal is used for the production of heat as well as electricity for the manufacturing process and for processes further up the supply chain. This confirmed to us the importance of focussing at product manufacturer level when managing social risks in our supply chain. This is where we can have greatest positive impact. However it also highlights the need for careful consideration of supplier practices and locations when selecting new suppliers due to social risks outside a supplier’s direct control.

With a contribution of 50%, shoe manufacture is clearly a social risk hotspot for the Kayano 21 production chain and is due to a combination of factors. First, assembly work is relatively labour intensive which means the workers in the factory contribute a large amount of time to the total production and therefore their social conditions get a higher weight. Second, the Kayano 21 is a major output for the manufacturer and therefore carries a lot of the “responsibility” for the social conditions in the factory. So, while other industry sectors may have higher total social risks, those risks get shared by many more customers.

ASICS has a CSR Auditing and Training Programme in place with our product suppliers, so we are actively managing the ‘shoe manufacture’ social hot spot to reduce social risks. We were able to use information from our CSR auditing of the specific product supplier to recalculate their associated social risks in the S-LCA Scan. This specific supplier is rated above-average so this reduced the initial calculated supplier risk level by about 30-50%. With further improvement of CSR performance the risk can be minimized further.

* Benoit Norris, Catherine, Norris, Gregory A., Aulisio, Deana. 2013. The Social Hotspots Database V2, New Earth.