Leading active apparel and footwear titan Adidas is digging into its commitment to sustainability.
The brand has announced a new suite of initiatives, ranging from material innovation to circular processes and collaborative partnerships with national sports leagues.
In a statement released Tuesday, Adidas acknowledged its role in contributing to the planet’s toxic plastic waste problem.
According to the company, there is one ton of plastic for every person on the planet—and nearly 80 percent of that volume has become garbage that wreaks havoc on the environment.
Adidas is ready to take on an active role in mitigating its own material output, and it hopes to influence the industry at large.
“We’re not just focused on changing how we do business; we’re dedicated to changing how our industry does business,” James Carnes, the brand’s vice president of brand strategy, said in a statement.
That objective will require a massive material overhaul. But luckily, Adidas has had a head start.
The company’s fruitful partnership with Parley for the Oceans, which began in 2015, has yielded more than 15 million pairs of shoes made with ocean plastics.
In 2020, Adidas will debut Primeblue and Primegreen, two new sustainable technologies developed with recycled polyester.
Primeblue is a performance fabric made with Parley Ocean Plastic that is currently being introduced into some of the brand’s most visible product, like the Ultraboost 20 and the uniforms of professional sports leagues and teams across the globe.
Primegreen, by contrast, will contain no virgin plastic, the brand said. The recycled polyester material will be introduced later this year into some of Adidas’ key competitive products.
Supported by these new material innovations, Adidas will also be implementing a sustainability categorization process for all of its products called the Three Loop Strategy.
The brand’s Recycled Loop products are made from recycled materials, like Primeblue and Primegreen performance fabrics.
Circular Loop products are “made to be remade,” the brand said, like the Futurecraft Loop running shoe that debuted last year. These products’ lifecycles will continue even after they’re used beyond wearability.
Adidas is also working on true end-of-life solutions for its products. Bionic Loop products will not only be circular—they’ll be able to biodegrade and return to nature with minimal impact to the ecology.
Ending plastic waste
“We believe that through sport we have the power to change lives, and we are dedicated to creating that change,” Carnes said. “Since 1998, we’ve been developing and introducing innovations to end plastic waste.”
In its statement Tuesday Adidas publicly released a timeline for its goal to completely eliminate wasteful plastics across its global operations.
By the end of 2020, more than 50 percent of all polyester that the brand uses will be recycled.
In 2021, Adidas will work with its key U.S. sports partners, including Major League Soccer, the National Hockey League, USA Volleyball and the Power 5 NCAA football programs to transition to more sustainable uniforms.
Over the next four years, Adidas is committed to using only recycled polyester in all products across its business. The brand’s introduction of Primeblue and Primegreen performance fabrics in 2020 represent preliminary steps toward this goal.
“Our commitment to eliminate the use of virgin polyester in our products by 2024 helps us get one step closer to being a more circular company,” Carnes said.
As a part of the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate action, Adidas aims to reduce its carbon footprint by nearly a third by 2030 (as compared with its 2017 impact).
Adidas has begun moving toward renewable energy in some of its operations globally in recent years. In Germany, the company sources nearly all of its electricity from renewable sources.
The brand has set a goal of achieving full climate neutrality by the year 2050.