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Adidas Taps Allbirds for Ambitious New Sustainability Goal

When Allbirds said it would openly share its sustainability smarts with the footwear industry at large, it wasn’t messing around.

Global athletic apparel and footwear phenom Adidas has joined forces with the Silicon Valley upstart in an effort to create a performance shoe with the lowest carbon emissions on the market.

Adidas said the two brands will explore innovations that would impact the entire footwear supply chain—from manufacturing to transportation methods—in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint.

The newly revamped process will be analyzed using both brands’ life cycle assessment tools, “ensuring for double the accountability,” Adidas said.

Meanwhile, the collaborative shoe will be designed to meet Adidas’ rigorous performance standards, standing up to repeated impact and providing support through regular wear-and-tear.

In light of the rise of a global pandemic and the economic fallout that proceeded its spread, many brands have entered crisis mode. Focusing all of their attention on recouping losses has set back some sustainability commitments, even for those that had big goals in place for 2020.

“As we look ahead to what comes next, we have not lost sight of reimagining what’s possible for all of us, as we remain committed to tackling hard-hitting issues head-on–for all of our teammates and our planet,” Adidas said.

According to the German firm, the footwear industry emits 700 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, which adds up to 80,775,444 homes’ energy use for one year.

A single running shoe made with synthetic materials has a carbon footprint of between 11.3-16.7 kilograms of carbon dioxide, the company said–and it would like to take that number down to zero.

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Both brands have been lauded in recent years for their efforts to make over the footwear supply chain, mostly through the championing of innovative, earth-friendly materials.

Adidas’ Parley for the Oceans partnership began as a capsule collection in 2015, and the collaboration has since grown exponentially. The brand has sold over one million pairs of shoes made from plastic waste retrieved from oceans and waterways, and has committed to using only recycled plastics in all of its synthetic-based products by 2024.

“Our brands don’t want to just participate in the sustainability conversation, we want to continue being catalysts and creators of substantial improvement,” James Carnes, vice president of Adidas brand strategy, said in a statement. “The recent progress that our brands have made in the name of sustainable innovation has created the perfect momentum for this partnership to influence industry practices forever.”

Adidas has partnered with Allbirds to create a sport-performance shoe with the lowest carbon emissions in the world.

Sustainable stalwart Allbirds was founded on the promise of cutting out the toxic components that make up the bulk of footwear products on the market. From naturally regenerative wool to its renewable, sugarcane-based SweetFoam midsoles, the company has attempted to revamp virtually every ecologically-damaging substance used in the process of footwear production.

“There is an urgent need to reduce our global carbon number, and this mission is bigger than just Allbirds or Adidas,” said Allbirds co-CEO Tim Brown. “Whether we realize it or not this is a race that we are all running together as a planet and it is one that trumps the day-to-day competition of individual companies.”