Eco-designed materials & dyes: why this requires so much energy.

The least impactful equipment is that which is purchased only once, for a lifetime. For us, durability is a prerequisite. But this is not enough.

To achieve this, we also need to explore new ways to select materials and processing methods that consume the least amount of resources and energy.
Ask the right questions, test and retest, make mistakes, rectify, convince, succeed, share our discoveries: the road is long, but we know it's the right one.

Product life cycle


The stakes are high: The textile industry alone is estimated to be responsible for about 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions and to consume 4% of the world's available drinking water. (Source, 2015)

Aware of the urgency of the situation, we are committed to progressing along the path of eco-design. Given the complexity of the subject, we have chosen to start by taking stock of the life cycle analysis of our products. This allows us to have a clear vision of the most impactful steps and to focus all our energy on reducing or even eliminating them.

Thus, all our choices, from materials to cutting, are made according to a methodology that ensures the right balance between quality, technicality, use and limitation of product impact.

Our objectives for 2026


    Of eco-designed products

    Done in 2021: 32%


    Of traceability on wool and feathers

    Done in 2021: 90%

Action no.1: calculate the impact at the design stage

Our product engineers use a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) tool* to measure the impact of their design choices on the product. In this way, they can identify the levers for environmental optimisation from the first phase of reflection.
This tool takes into account 4 criteria:
- CO2 emissions
- fine particle emissions
- eutrophication of fresh and marine waters
- depletion of resources

By 2021, 92% of our products were modelled with this eco-design tool.
On average, 5 kg eq/CO2 are saved for each new eco-designed product.

We also need to develop the criteria and the catalogue of raw materials for a broader view (we can always do better, especially for biodiversity).

*This modelling tool is based on the European databases of the external organisation Glimpact, which guarantees the objectivity of our impact measurement.


Action no. 2: choose raw materials that meet our requirements

The selection of materials is a decisive factor in our eco-design approach. In 2021, material extraction accounted for 19% of our carbon footprint.
Whether biobased or synthetic, some materials are less impactful than others if they are sustainably sourced, responsibly designed or even recycled. We pay particular attention to the supply of each of them.

You may wonder why we continue to use synthetic materials: These materials are generally derived from oil and require resources that have an environmental impact.
First of all, we must demystify the idea that so-called "natural" materials are more virtuous: To date, our calculations show that some synthetic materials have less impact than wool or cotton for example. Indeed, the cultivation of cotton, the breeding of sheep and their processing have a significant impact on the environment.
In addition, synthetic materials have technical properties that are very useful for trekking, such as strength and quick drying, for example. It is still too early to imagine that trekkers can do without them on the trails and we will not make any concessions on the resistance of our products.

  • organic cotton trousers

    Sustainable and recycled cotton

    Cotton is an advantageous natural material: the softness of its textile fibre offers a particularly appreciable resistance and softness.

    Its production nevertheless raises several issues, such as the cultivation techniques used and the management of the necessary natural resources.
    This is why we have chosen to source our products exclusively from sustainable sectors: The cotton used in our products comes from sustainable cultivation (such as the Better Cotton Initiative), from organic sectors or from recycling.

  • recycled polyester gloves

    Recycled polyester

    Polyester provides technical qualities inherent to the sports use of our products: strength, lightness and speed of drying.

    Whenever possible, the polyester we use is dyed during the production of the yarn. Also, no additional dyeing is required, which significantly reduces its environmental impact compared to other processes.

    In 2021, 16.3% of Decathlon's polyester supply came from recycled materials, notably from a plastic bottle recycling sector. By the end of 2022, 100% of the polyester used will come from more sustainable sources.

  • Eco-friendly down jacket

    The strenghth of polyamide

    Polyamide is an even more resistant material than polyester, with the same weight.

    Where technically possible, the polyamide we use has been dope-dyed, which significantly reduces its environmental footprint.

    We are also considering a solution for using recycled polyamide from component offcuts in production.

  • Eco-friendly poles

    Non-adodised metal

    Many of our products contain metal parts, which are appreciated for their robustness. While all metals are different, both in terms of performance and environmental impact, their extraction and processing is still very energy intensive. In addition, metal parts usually go through chemical treatments: anodising the metal to prevent oxidation and painting for aesthetics. However, these steps are not always necessary and there are more sustainable alternatives.

    Aware of this, our engineers strive to make the best choices and develop innovative solutions to further limit the impact of our metal components. Choice of metal, alternatives to anodising and, in the future, recycled metals are all levers that we are beginning to use to make further progress.

  • Strong rubber


    Produced from the processing of synthetic materials or rubber latex, rubber is valued for its flexibility, adhesion and strength.

    We looked into the possibility of sourcing only recycled rubber for our shoes, but our various tests showed that its strength was not up to our requirements. So we had to make a choice, which is the longevity of our soles, because we do not make concessions on the resistance of our products.

    As proof, we are currently working on a new "ultra resistant" rubber.

  • Animal-derived material: Merino wool

    Materials of animal origin

    Knowing where the animal materials used in our products come from and how the animals they come from are treated are key issues for us.
    Our challenge is the traceability of animal materials and ensuring that our providers give decent living conditions for animals.
    That is why our merino wool comes from farms where mulesing is not practiced, and our feather products (down jacket, sleeping bag) are RDS certified. Our latest project in progress concerns the leather of our shoes, for which we are moving step by step towards better traceability.


Action no. 3: use less polluting dyeing processes

From our first steps towards eco-design, the various life cycle analyses of our products proved that the dyeing stage was one of the most polluting.
Finding alternative solutions therefore quickly became the priority of our design teams.

This is why today each new Forclaz product benefits from less polluting dyeing processes, when technically possible.
The challenge is considerable because the traditional fibre dyeing process uses a large quantity of water that must be brought to a high temperature, which consumes a lot of energy.
"Conventional" industrial dyeing can also cause :
- CO2 emissions if the energy used by the dyer is produced from a carbon resource (e.g. coal) charbon)
- water pollution if the dyeing plant is not connected to a wastewater treatment plant
- high health risks due to untreated heavy metals that agglomerate in the sludge of wastewater treatment plants
For several years, the Decathlon group has therefore been working on new dyeing solutions while at the same time setting up a system of environmental audits at its industrial partners.

These alternative processes allow us not only to reduce the impact of our products, but also to maintain the technical properties of the yarns, while offering better colour fastness over time compared to a conventional dyeing process.
Where these techniques cannot be used, we ask our suppliers to implement alternative impact-reducing solutions to the more traditional dyeing processes. This includes the energy efficiency of the equipment used.

  • dope dyed or mass-dyeing

    Dye the yarn, not the fabric

    This process, also known as dyeing in the mass or "dope-dyed", consists of integrating the colour pigment into the plastic granules during the creation of the plastic. The yarn created is therefore already coloured and the fabric does not require different dye baths.

  • greige

    Not applying any dyes

    This process, also known as "greige", works for both natural materials (which will retain an original colour such as pale yellow for wool), and synthetic materials (e.g. white for polyester).

  • less impactful dyeing: biton

    Alternating one dyed and one undyed yarn

    Applicable to certain natural and synthetic materials, this technique, known as "biton", consists of dyeing only one thread out of two, i.e. alternating a grey thread with a dope-dyed thread. And as the weave is very tight, it is not visible to the naked eye!

  • single dyed

    Dye only certain fibres of the yarn

    This process, also known as "single-dyed", is used when different fibres of materials are mixed together to make a yarn. Only one of these fibres is then dyed to obtain the colour of the yarn, which gives a textured effect. Unfortunately, this process has less impact but is not applicable to all components.


Action no. 4: limit fabric waste in production

We favour close collaboration between designers and pattern makers, right from the start of a design project. In our prototyping workshops in Haute-Savoie, they work together to find solutions to reduce component waste, by optimising the placement of pattern parts to limit losses: This is what we call minimal waste design.

And this approach does not only apply to new products: Using a global diagnosis of fabric waste in production, designers and pattern makers can identify and rework pre-existing products with the highest volume of waste.
Invisible for our users, but significant in terms of impact!

For example, the minimal waste design of our Trek 100 poncho has significantly reduced falls. Compared to the previous product, that's 50 cm of fabric saved per pattern on size L.

  • industrial patterns

    1. Reworking pattern-making

    The designer and pattern maker rethink the pattern in order to optimise the placement of the different pieces to limit fabric losses.

  • Industrial cutting

    2. Modelling of the cut

    Software is used to accurately model the shape of the new cut-out.

  • Low-waste industrial prototype

    3. Realization of the prototype

    The prototypes are made in our prototyping workshops in Haute-Savoie.

What’s next?

Our goal: by 2026, 100% of Forclaz products will be eco-designed, according to the criteria defined by the Decathlon group. In 2021, we were at 32%: there’s still a long way to go and we’re putting all our energy into it.
To achieve this, we need to address many challenges and continue our explorations.

Many Decathlon Group brands already offer products made from recycled materials: recycled polyester, cotton or plastic.
Among the many benefits of using recycled materials is that we do not have to draw on natural resources again. Also, it can allow us to work with materials that are already coloured, since recycling is based on sorting the fibres by colour. Also, using recycled yarns in this way avoids the dyeing stage.

It is another way of working with the material, with new challenges:
- How can the properties of the material be maintained when it is no longer virgin?
- How to source sufficient quantities of materials that are difficult to recycle?
For example, today we know how to recycle polyamide when it comes from production offcuts (limited quantities) but we have not yet identified a sector for recycling polyamide from donations or waste from individuals.

The management of smaller volumes, especially for small series of products, is a real challenge for us. Indeed, the dope dyed can only be applied from a certain quantity: if our need for coloured yarns is below this threshold, we have to use conventional dyeing processes.

Fortunately, more responsible dyeing solutions are emerging, and we are always willing to experiment with them:
- In particular, we are studying the Clean dyed process, also known as supercritical CO2 dyed: a closed loop process where CO2 will be concentrated at very high pressure to act as a solvent. No soaking is necessary: the dye will impregnate deeply into the threads. This is a promising alternative that would allow us to significantly reduce the impact of dyeing. However, this technique is only applicable to polyester.
- We are also beginning to explore plant dye solutions, which would be created from plant residues already used by the industry. If this project is successful, we could use it to dye our virgin wools, for example.

Minimal waste design has been a core strategy at Decathlon for several years. Also, for some products, material consumption is already optimised to the maximum.
We continue to develop new products with minimal waste design where technically possible.

At the same time, we are working on a minimal assembly project, which consists of limiting the number of seams during the assembly of a product.
This work can only be carried out if the supplier's production tool is well known: depending on the assembly technology it uses, we will look for suitable solutions. For example, we are working on a heat-welded jacket, i.e. the seams are not stitched like conventional seams but press-welded. That way, there are almost no seams. On this jacket, there are two hand pockets and in order to optimise handling, the hem of the bottom of the jacket is used as the bottom pocket. This is all the more interesting as the jacket is more resistant: the pockets will not develop holes.
In this way, we reduce the human time spent on the product and therefore its final cost... which gives us a better chance of bringing production back to Europe. On the other hand, this process consumes a little more material than a traditional jacket, so it is a compromise.

Delphine, Forclaz Engineer


Technical director of textiles at forclaz

At Forclaz, we are aware that all our actions have an impact on the planet. We have therefore decided to act, each at our own level, to limit it as much as possible.

Eco-design is therefore a matter of course.
This is an essential way of designing our products. We make a point of using all the tools at our disposal to design products that are ever more solid, economical and adapted to the needs of trekkers.
Every material used, every line of stitching, every finish is thought out to serve this purpose. We do not hesitate to improve our products day after day for more sustainability and less impact.
That's why we are so proud to put our logo on the products we offer.