For almost a century, Speedo has been the world’s premier brand for all things swimming. From their state of the art engineered technical suits used by olympians to their fitness suits for the everyday swimmer, Speedo offers a product for everyone. If you walk into any swim practice, water polo match, or diving meet, you’re guaranteed to see at least a few Speedo Teamster backpacks. These backpacks are designed specifically for athletes who compete in the pool because the outside is water resistant and the backpack includes a compartment made for wet swimsuits. However, when it comes to sustainability, Speedo reveals very little information about their efforts and any progress that they do share is vague and outdated.
The product description for this backpack on Speedo’s website does not include any information about the material makeup of this bag which is the first sign of a lack of transparency from Speedo. Other sources claim the entire bag is made of polyester and some plastic for the chest and waist buckles. Polyester is poor for the environment because its manufacturing process involves burning fossil fuels which releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Additionally, polyester takes hundreds of years to break down and can release microplastics into waterways.
The Teamster bags are extremely durable and can last for at least a decade because they are built to be brought to the pool (I’ve had mine for 12 years and running!). That being said, despite the non-renewable materials used for this bag, Speedo is dedicated to longevity and durability which is an important factor for sustainability because the bag can serve many uses in its life cycle.
Speedo asserts that they use old fishing nets, plastics, and carpet material to manufacture some of their materials. However, since Speedo does not share what the Teamster backpack is made of, their recycling efforts may not apply directly to this product. There is little information about the manufacturing process of the bags, but Speedo does share that they donate unsold products to fashion brands to upcycle the materials and to local markets in Senegal to be resold. Overall, the information Speedo provides about their supply chain is vague and lacks numerical data to back it up. They seem to spend more time discussing the sustainability of their new headquarters in the UK and boast its energy efficiency and reused furniture. While their efforts to make their base more sustainable are important, Speedo needs to be more specific with their supply chain efforts for their products.
Speedo’s labor values may be the most vague of all. In a section on their website entitled “Ethical Trade,” they discuss their supposed commitment to employee welfare and how they put people first, and share that they only partner with suppliers and factories who also uphold these “standards” and “values.” They also claim to do inspections at factories to ensure they are up to par with their “standards.” However, Speedo does not publish any specific standards they have related to employee welfare. This “Ethical Trade” section reveals that Speedo likely is not taking steps to ensure wellbeing for their workers because they do not give details about what they are doing or how they are going about it.