Asics GT-1000 10 Running Shoes

overall rating:

1.75

planets

Lawrence Xing
7/14/2021
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Asics was a really interesting company to review because they are a popular brand that is often forgotten in favor of even larger brands like Nike and Addidas. I was pleasantly surprised to see how built out their sustainability strategies, reports, and webpages were, however, their material use for the shoes was subpar. Asics makes up for this with their attention to durability in their shoes and attention to detail in their supply chain, however, it will be interesting to see how they move forward with their material use in their shoes. 

What it's made of:

0.25

The Asics GT-1000 10 Running Shoes are an Asics classic shoe that celebrated its 10th anniversary with a new design for comfort and sustainability. According to the product details listed on the website, the shoe is made with Rearfoot GEL technology cushioning, AHAR Plus Outsoles, Sustainable sockliner dye, FLYTEFOAM Midsoles, and OrthoLite Insoles. But, what do all of these fancy terms mean for the overall sustainability of the shoe?

To begin, Rearfoot GEL technology cushions the heel of the foot with a silicone material made from inert polymers. Silicone is generally better than plastic when it comes to durability and being ocean-friendly, however, it is not biodegradable due to the hydrocarbons used in the creation process. Next, AHAR Plus Outsole is made from a rubber material that is also used for car tires. This makes for a very durable outsole that is again not very environmentally friendly due to the rubber. Asics has also committed to a solution dyeing process that they say uses up to 50% less water than their old dyeing process. Following, the FLYTEFOAM Midsoles are made through a special process of incorporating gas content into ballistic-grade, elastic fiber similar to bulletproof jackets. This helps make for a light cushioning, but not sustainability as the materials are difficult to recycle. Finally, OrthoLite Insoles are made from recycled rubber and plant-based bio-oils. The company (OrthoLite) that produces the insoles is also very dedicated to sustainability, from production to packaging to repurposing used insoles. 

Overall, the inherent properties of the materials are not particularly sustainable with a theme of not being biodegradable, which would make a closed-loop life cycle difficult. However, Asics does focus on durability, which is a definite positive as a pair of shoes that can last someone a long time can prevent the need for many poor quality shoes. 

How it's made:

1.75

Asics presents a strong resume with supply chain and commitment to environmental performance/training at their factories. From their 2020 Sustainability Report, Asics has over 150 Tier 1 suppliers in 22 countries that they strive to “build transparent, fair, and ethical partnerships” with. They score each of these suppliers with a rating between A to E based on sustainability performance such as forced labor, child labor, abuse/harassment, wages, discrimination, and hours of work. They also use environmental criteria to help impact the score. Although 98% of their suppliers scored C Rated and above, almost half of these were at the C level. Asics also does not indicate how specifically they score their suppliers using their criteria, but they do conduct on-site inspections, employee interviews, and hire third-parties to monitor performance. They also conduct internal and partner audits to follow up with factories that are lacking in their standards on an annual basis to develop and improve performance.

Along with this, Asics has guidelines for non-compliance issues. They help provide regular training for their suppliers to understand new standards and best practices. They also have a platform called SAC’s Higg Index that helps connect their supply chain for more transparency. Finally, they have statements on fair wages, collective bargaining, child labor, modern slavery, and grievance mechanisms that are listed on their sustainability report.

Overall, Asics seems to have put a great amount of effort into these aspects in their sustainability report with their monitoring and training systems in place, but I would love to see more statistics (for example, for fair wages) that really drive home what they are doing. 

Who makes it:

2.5

As a company, Asics definitely makes an effort towards sustainability. Along with the sustainability report that I touched on in the previous section, they dedicate one of their main tabs on the corporate Asics page to sustainability. The only drawback here is that it is harder to find compared to the Asics shopping website, but no doubt has had a lot of work put into it. It touches on everything from managing sustainability at the company to policies and stakeholder engagement. 

Asics is guided by a sustainability framework of two pillars, people and planet. To them, people represent consumers/community, employees, and the supply chain. Planet represents their products and operations. Together, these pillars target many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals with overarching focus topics of mental & physical well-being, human rights in the supply chain, climate action, and circularity. They also have a sustainability committee that is chaired by the President and COO, which is responsible for reviewing company-wide sustainability strategy, roadmaps, and action plans.

No doubt, Asics has genuine sustainability initiatives, but how many of these can they turn into real action?