The global sports apparel brand Adidas, recently named one of the most sustainable companies in the world by Dow Jones, is doubling down on its plan to take plastic out of the ocean by putting it into our shoes.
In 2017, Adidas laid out a plan to achieve 20% water savings at strategic suppliers, 50% water savings at apparel material suppliers and 35% water savings per employee on site by 2020. This would not mean much if Adidas was not willing to walk the walk and prevent its own plastics from ending up at beaches combed by the marine conservation organisation Parley for the Oceans which collects plastic waste from beaches. This upcycled plastic waste is then made into a yarn which becomes a key component of the upper material of Adidas footwear.
The resulting UltraBOOST trainers contain around five recycled 500ml bottles’ worth of plastic per shoe. The upper part of the trainers is made from 100% PCR plastic yarn, while the 3D-printed soles and midsoles are made from recycled polyester and fill net content.
“Where the use of plastics, for example in transport packaging, is still unavoidable, we rely on counterbalancing measures and promoting sustainable alternatives,” the brand has stated. The company is currently supporting the global innovation platform Fashion for Good with a donation of $1.72 million which equals the company’s current environmental impact of plastic packaging.
Over the past two years, Adidas has produced 6 million pairs of shoes containing recycled ocean plastic. Adidas started by producing just 1 million pairs in 2017, but this number grew to 5 million by the end of 2018. For 2019, Adidas wants to go even further.
“We plan to produce 11 million pairs of shoes containing recycled ocean plastic in 2019”, Adidas’ executive board member responsible for global brands, Eric Liedtke, has revealed in a recent statement.
To add to this, Gil Steyaert, an Executive Board member at Adidas, has said: “Sustainability at Adidas goes far beyond recycled plastic. We also continue to improve our environmental performance during the manufacturing of our products. This includes the use of sustainable materials, the reduction of CO2 emissions and waste prevention.” In 2018 alone, Adidas saved more than 40 tonnes of plastic waste in its offices, retail stores, warehouses and distribution centres worldwide and replaced it with more sustainable solutions. Previously, the retailer has pledged to “get rid of virgin polyester by 2024”, removing fresh plastics from its supply chain altogether.
Adidas was also an early founder of the Better Cotton Initiative and currently sources only sustainably produced cotton. Additionally, Adidas has operated its retail locations without plastic bags since 2016.
Adidas has also recently signed the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action in Poland, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, and achieve zero emissions by the year 2050. This charter has so far been signed by 43 major fashion brands across the world, including H&M Group, Inditex and Gap. Hopefully, this will generate similar announcements and initiatives by other big brands in the near future.