Retail & Wholesale



4, Boulevard de Mons
59665 Villeneuve-d’Ascq

Tel: +33 (0) 320 337 500




  • Sustainable Cotton Ranking of 57.6 out of 100




Isabelle Guyader




Report created by Kavita Kripalani


SECTIONS :  Sustainability    Evaluation  •  Progress  •  Watch  •  Overview

Company Activity

Decathlon S.A. is a French sporting goods retailer. With over 1,647 stores in nearly 1,000 cities in 57 countries and regions, it is the largest sporting goods retailer in the world. Its holding company was formerly known as Oxylane.

Company Sustainability Activity

Decathlon’s mission is to make sport accessible to everyone by designing, producing and distributing quality sporting goods and the best value, whilst committing to sustainable development. Their priority is to create long-term value for their teams, customers, users, partners and citizens.

Their strategy to reconcile their business model to sell sports items at affordable prices with the need to respond to environmental issues, is by encouraging their users to choose eco-friendly products without increasing costs. In return, this influences their design and supply strategies, involving materials and manufacturing processes that have less impact on the environment.

Since 1986, Decathlon designs and manufactures their own label products, which include textiles, shoes, bikes, sports equipment, accessories and nutritional, electronic and optical products. They use cotton in their textile products in proportions equal to those of the market (around 30%), of which 100% are aimed to be sourced from more sustainable sources by 2020 to help reduce environmental impacts of conventional cotton productions and improve social conditions. They have therefore decided to pursue the adoption of three types of more sustainable cotton: organic, recycled and BCI cotton.

In 2006, they began using organically grown cotton, a small market that currently accounts for just 0.4% of the world’s cotton production. At the moment, they use it mainly for their yoga-related ranges, such as leggings, capri pants and t-shirts.

Recycled cotton still poses technical issues for manufacturers, who are struggling to develop systems capable of recycling used or end-of-life clothing. They are heavily involved in the efforts of ADEME (the French Environment and Energy Management Agency) to support research, are partners with a consortium of French manufacturers, and concentrate on two specific avenues: the recycling of industrial waste and the recycling of used clothing.

Since 2012, Decathlon has been supporting the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), whose good practice guidelines are designed to reduce the environmental impacts of conventional cotton farming, and which incorporate a broad social component.



  • Meaning and value teammate commitment, cohesion
  • Employment skills and management skills availability and quality, talent development
  • Sharing value sharing value, participating in company development, project involvement
  • Teammate health and safety, quality of work life


  • Health and safety customer/sports user health and safety, product safety (harmlessness, strength, etc.)
  • Customer satisfaction, recommendation, loyalty, shopping cart amount, product innovation


  • Basic human rights opportunities
  • Corruption integrity, loyalty, trust in business relations


  • Climate change energy savings, resource availability
  • Environmental impacts management of emissions and pollution, protection and optimisation of resources


  • Decathlon is committed to reducing its total CO2 emissions by 75% within Scopes 1 and 2, by 2026.
  • To reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 40% per product sold between 2016 and 2026.
  • The promotion of women: they have room for improvement in reaching their goal of having 50% female leaders by 2026. 
  • Have 100% eco-designed products by 2026.
  • Have 150 partner suppliers that will manufacture 80% of the products by 2026.
  • Stop installing new coal-fired boilers at its suppliers of finished products and components by 2025 at the latest.
  • All electricity consumed by Decathlon will come from renewable sources by 2026.
  • 3% of the wood purchased by Decathlon was FSC or PEFC certified, and the target is 100% in 2021.
  • Decathlon is committed to 95% of its packaging materials being derived from more sustainable sources (paper pulp) by 2025. 
  • Decathlon has made the commitment to ensure that 100% of this pulp is PEFC or FSC certified by 2025. 


Responsibility in Production

  • Decathlon owns nine production sites, in which they manufacture some of their items. They are developing the Decathlon Manufacturing Way network in these sites, aimed at promoting operational excellence. This network enables the teams and partner suppliers to exchange ideas and witness the best-known practices to date.
  • Decathlon is setting out an industrial project with each one of their partner suppliers, who share the same vision and values. These projects are being undertaken collaboratively and transparently to create a relationship of mutual trust. These mutually demanding partnering relationships are embedded in their internal processes, creating the right conditions for operational excellence, while fostering individual responsibility and autonomy. 
  • Decathlon maintains lasting relationships with all its suppliers, based on performance management as well as social and environmental responsibility in production. They single out suppliers they do not have a partnering relationship with, who are strategic suppliers due to things like exclusive technology or a significant volume of production.

Environmental Labelling

  • Several industrial processes use leather, i.e. mainly shoes, gloves. The surface area of the leather used came to nearly 1.3 million square metres in 2019. The carbon footprint of this durable material that has many quality benefits is primarily associated with the dyeing process. Processes that are more sustainable were tested in 2019, such as eliminating the chrome. An inventory of the material was also carried out in collaboration with the various industrial processes, which revealed the importance of traceability, a subject which will continue to be worked on by the teams in 2020.  
  • Decathlon works with suppliers who respect decent breeding conditions: no animal abuse, no force-feeding of geese and ducks, no live plucking. To go even further in the area of animal welfare, the Decathlon teams are aiming to source the feathers for the clothing from 100% RDS certified suppliers.  
  • For 2 years, wood has experienced an increase in demand, due to its use in many Decathlon products, which are an integral part of certain sports, like skateboards or geologic games. It is also used for packaging (cardboard made from wood fibre). In support of this development, the teams are working to certify the material. By the end of 2019, 3% of the wood purchased by Decathlon was FSC or PEFC certified, and the target is 100% in 2021.


UN Sustainable Development Goals

UN SDGs Compliance


  • Providing a living wage at production sites for Decathlon products
  • Compensating teammates fairly


  • Promoting the use of cotton from sustainable sources (organically grown cotton, BCI cotton, etc.)

SDG 3 

  • Making sports products accessible to as many people as possible 
  • Delivering health and safety for their teammates 
  • Keeping users safe 
  • Holding sporting events near their sites


  • Providing in-person and digital training for all on a continuous basis, throughout the careers of their teammates and across all business lines 
  • Sharing the principles and values of sustainable development and the tools to make a difference every day in each Decathlon store through dedicated training available to all teammates p. 
  • Supporting supplier skill-building and autonomy

SDG 5 

  • Ensuring that everyone has the chance to live up to their potential and achieve their goals by combating sexism in the workplace


  • Conducting environmental audits at production sites that process more than 50m3 of water per day 
  • Using technologies that help reduce water usage


  • Committing to the RE100 initiative so that all electricity consumed by Decathlon will come from renewable sources by 2026


  • Ensuring decent work at sites that produce Decathlon products through human responsibility in production audits and support for the teams on the ground 
  • Analysing the annual responses from teammates about their workplace well-being through the DTB tool and deploying appropriate action plans


  • Developing a purchasing strategy for Decathlon products with privileged industrial partners and eco-constructing sustainable growth strategies with their input

SDG 10

  • Ensuring that everyone is treated fairly at every level of the value chain by implementing the Duty of Vigilance

SDG 11

  • Taking part in community life, engaging in dialogue with neighbors and all stakeholders
  • Calculating and writing action plans to improve the regional impact of their sites
  • Helping to support people in difficulty through the work of the Decathlon Foundation

SDG 12

  • Expanding eco-design and environmental labeling for Decathlon products 
  • Reducing the impact of the use of raw materials
  • Offering environmentally friendly products and services 
  • Training the Decathlon product design teams on the notion of the circular economy

SDG 13

  • Calculating the carbon footprint of Decathlon business activities and implementing action plans to reduce it 
  • Eco-designing and extending the service life of Decathlon products
  • Reducing the impact of the use of raw materials
  • Performing environmental audits to help suppliers continuously reduce their environmental impact
  • Consuming only renewably-sourced electricity by 2026 
  • Reducing the use of air travel to transport products 
  • Incentivising and participating in the emergence of new forms of mobility

SDG 14

  • Helping suppliers with wastewater treatment and chemicals management to prevent water pollution
  • Expanding the use of raw materials from more sustainable sources

SDG 15

  • Working to protect the biodiversity present around their sites
  • Performing environmental audits to continuously reduce the environmental impact of Decathlon product suppliers

SDG 16

  • Ensuring that they work fairly and equitably with their partners by combating corruption, and by enforcing their Code of Conduct at sites that produce Decathlon products

SDG 17



In the company’s sustainability report, Decathlon sets ambitious targets that are specific and focused, based on their different areas of interest. They use metrics to show their progress, though the details of their progress are somewhat vague. 

The company has decent certificates, awards and listings. They produce a detailed report with specific targets and goals for reducing their environmental footprint by cutting down their CO2 emissions, energy consumption, recycling, renewable energy, water conservation, human rights, and raw material consumption in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The company has CDP scores ranging from A- to D. 

The company’s report itself appears to be quite detailed, addressing CSR and sustainability on as many fronts as possible and by aligning itself with all 17 UN SDGs. On the surface, this is a noteworthy effort. 

It is unfortunately unclear whether Decathlon’s sustainability practices are as great as they claim, as the company’s credibility is questionable. Decathlon has recently been involved in a slew of controversies, ranging from islamophobia, a data breach of millions of its employees and customers, safety violations, to alleged labour abuse in its Sri Lankan factories. Decathlon must rectify their wrongdoings to show and earn the public’s trust, proving through their actions that they are indeed an ethical company. 

This company has been rated a C on the Sustainability Index. 

Analyst Outlook: Neutral

Decathlon seems to have the right idea by communicating their sustainable business practices in detail, but they must work to prove that their progress is legitimate.

Key Points

  • In September 2019, Decathlon joined the UNFCCC initiative, The Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action includes several commitments to establish a decarbonisation pathway for the fashion industry and achieve the goal of zero net emissions by 2050. The commitments concern every company activity: production, component selection, transport, etc.
  • Decathlon uses some eco-friendly materials including recycled materials. There is no evidence it has a policy to prevent deforestation in the supply chain.
  • They have set a science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated from their own operations and supply chain, but there is no evidence they are on track to meet this target.
  • There is no evidence they minimise textile waste when manufacturing their products.
  • None of their supply chain is certified by labour standards which ensure worker health and safety, living wages or other labour rights.
  • Decathlon received a score of 21-30% in the Fashion Transparency Index.
  • Decathlon likely publishes detailed information about their supplier policies, audits and remediation processes. They do not publish a list of suppliers or information about forced labour, gender equality or freedom of association.
  • There is no evidence they ensure payment of a living wage in their supply chain.
  • They do not disclose adequate policies or safeguards to protect suppliers and workers in their supply chain from the impacts of COVID-19.
  • They have a general statement about minimising animal suffering but not a formal animal welfare policy. They use leather and down. They state that they source wool from non-mulesed sheep. They do not use fur, exotic animal skin, exotic animal hair or angora. They trace some animal products to the first stage of production.
  • Within France’s population of roughly 6 million, Muslims are a number of women who wear a hijab and play sports. To satisfy their need to do both simultaneously, Decathlon had planned to introduce a “running hijab” in the country in 2019, but the brand cancelled those plans after a fierce backlash from French politicians that included suggestions of a boycott.
Share this Post