Last year, Adidas sold a million pairs of shoes made from recycled ocean plastic.
The recycled shoes were produced in collaboration with the environmental initiative Parley for the Oceans and were made from recycled plastic water bottles collected from beaches or fished out of the ocean.
Following this success, Adidas has announced that it will make all of its shoes and clothing from recycled polyester within the next five years.
“Adidas is committed to using only recycled polyester in every product and on every application where a solution exists by 2024,” the company said in a press release.
About 50 per cent of the material used in the 920m individual items Adidas sells is polyester. “With those kinds of volumes, we cannot make the transition overnight,” Eric Liedtke, head of Adidas’ global brands, said.
Recycled polyester is 10-20 per cent more expensive than virgin materials, and even if Adidas meets this year’s target of 11m recycled pairs of shoes, it would account for just 3 per cent of its annual footwear production.
But industry experts believe the price gap between recycled and new plastics will close in the coming years as more companies shift to renewables and suppliers increase their ability to produce recycled materials in large quantities.
“Prices will come down as we develop more capacity to collect, clean and process used plastics,” said Brenda Haitema, who leads supply chain operations at Thread International, which makes fabric from recycled plastics used by brands such as Marmot, Timberland and Adidas subsidiary Reebok.
Adidas’s move comes as more and more brands embrace recycled materials. Cycling startup Cyclo Technology, for example, is manufacturing its new folding bike helmet from a single formulation of ocean and land recycled plastic. And vegan travel shoemaker Tropicfeel has also utilised a large proportion of recycled material in its latest model.
Besides buying more eco-friendly gear, there’s also a lot we can do in our daily lives to reduce the amount of plastic we throw away. For tips on how to do this check out our guide on 10 sustainable alternatives to plastic bags for food storage.
Eco-focused outdoor brands like Patagonia have been leading the way—Patagonia has been running its reuse and recycle program ‘Worn Wear’ for years—but it’s great to see other big manufacturers following suit, even if it’s just to boost their eco-friendly image.
Featured image: The Adidas Ultraboost Uncaged Parley trainer made from recycled plastic bottles. Photo: Adidas