What happens to that championship shirt when a team loses?

  • Smart manufacturing lowers carbon emissions by 2.7 gigatons, the equivalent of taking 568 million cars off the road.

  • ICT technology can enable the idea of a circular supply chain business model, where products are tagged, tracked, and traced.

This post, titled Super Bowl or Super Bust: What Happens to that Championship Shirt When Your Team Loses?, was originally published on the AT&T Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability blog.

Have you ever wondered what happens to all of the merchandise produced for a sports team that doesn’t win the championship? What was the fate of the 2015 Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl shirts and Cleveland Cavaliers NBA Finals hats that were mass produced and never saw the light of day? Why does a manufacturer take a gamble to produce large quantities of goods that may never be relevant or available for purchase?

In the past, the answer may have been that the high risk investment was worth the high reward payout of consumers willing to pay for the privilege of wearing a championship shirt 24 hours after the big win. A manufacturer could ignore the product waste by donating the shirts and moving on to the next order. However, as manufacturing processes have become more streamlined, efficient and focused on reducing environmental impact, it makes less sense for a business to produce large volumes of merchandise that will go unsold.

Smart manufacturing, as part of the ICT economy, comes into play for high risk/high reward business practices like sports apparel production. The GeSI #SMARTer2030 report, released in June and sponsored by AT&T, explores the  benefits of smart manufacturing processes. Smart manufacturing potentially has the dual benefit of lowering carbon emissions by 2.7 gigatons – the equivalent of taking 568 million cars off the road – while creating up to $9.6 billion in additional revenues. Customer-centric production allows wholesale customers to specifically tailor mass produced items to specific needs. Better supply chain planning also leads to less overstock, optimized shipping and reduced waste in the manufacturing process. Furthermore, ICT technology can enable the idea of a circular supply chain business model,where products are tagged, tracked, and traced, then returned to the factory at the end of the product’s lifecycle to be recycled or refurbished.

As smart manufacturing processes and ICT technology improve, manufacturers will still be able to get you that championship shirt 24 hours after the big game, but they also will be able to more effectively conserve resources, recycle product, and scale to demand. 

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Amanda Moore Senior Sustainability Manager AT&T About Amanda