Tênis de plástico reciclado. Crédito: Divulgação/Adidas

Adidas vows to use only recycled plastics by 2024

The German sportswear company expects to save 40 tons of material a year; 1 million pairs of the recycled plastic shoes have already been sold

Adidas made an important environmental commitment: the German sportswear giant promises to use only recycled plastic for its operation from 2024. This means that all the stores, warehouses, offices, distribution centers and points of sales, as well as, of course, its products, will be manufactured with materials that have been through the recycling process. Some of it will also be produced from plastic that would go to the oceans. The information is from CNN.

The company expects to save around 40 tons of plastic a year from 2018, until reaching the goal of zero use of “virgin” plastic. Adidas’ head of global brands, Eric Liedtke, told The Financial Times that they will even stop using “virgin” polyester in the pieces produced by the company – currently, the material represents 50% of the raw material in its apparel.

The company’s first effective action after the announcement will be launching its apparel line for the spring and summer of 2019, which will contain around 41% recycled polyester in clothing, shoes and accessories.

In 2014, Adidas announced a partnership with Parley Ocean Plastic to launch the first sportswear line produced from a recycled plastic material. Parley aims to prevent plastic contamination from reaching the marine ecosystem by intercepting the waste before it reaches the ocean. The organization has partnerships with other companies, such as American Express.

Nowadays, on a global basis, only 14% of plastic is collected for recycling - a low rate when compared to other materials such as paper (58%), iron, and steel (with rates up to 90% in certain regions). Estimates show that there are, in the ocean, at least 5 trillion plastic objects – from microparticles to shopping bags –, which collectively weigh more than 250 tons.

Further sustainable initiatives

In 2016, Adidas announced the launching of three versions of its Ultraboost shoes made out of ocean plastic. The design of the shoes is inspired by the waves of the ocean and they contain 95% of plastic and 5% of polyester – entirely recycled, in their composition.

At first, only 7 thousand pairs of the shoes were produced, but it was a hit; a year later, another 1 million pairs have been sold. Each pair of shoes reuses 11 PET plastic bottles, and the increase in the cost of raw material, with virgin plastic, would range from 10% to 20%. Even so, Adidas expects to sell 11 million pairs of these shoes until late 2019 – which is equivalent to 3% of its annual production.

Another project of the German company is the Futurecraft Biofabric, a 100% biodegradable shoes, built with a synthetic material named Biosteel, which simulates a spider silk. When users want to discard the shoes, they only need to dilute it in a mix of water with the proteinase enzyme. Within 36 hours, the material is decomposed, except for the sole, which must be discarded.

Tênis biodegradável. Crédito: Divulgação/Adidas

"This is a fully natural process”, said the brand when announcing the product. “The shoes would not be dissolved if used in the rain, for example, since the presence of proteinase is important to the process.”

In Brazil, Adidas has recently taken this innovation to soccer: the model of the third uniform of the Flamengo soccer team is produced with recycled polyester.