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 your shoes.
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 that grew to 5 million by the end of 2018. For 2019, Adidas wants to go even further.
“With Adidas products made from recycled plastic, we offer our consumers real added value beyond the look, functionality and quality of the product, because every shoe is a small contribution to the preservation of our oceans,” Eric Liedtke, executive board member responsible for global brands at Adidas said in a statement. “After one million pairs of shoes produced in 2017, five million in 2018, we plan to produce eleven million pairs of shoes containing recycled ocean plastic in 2019.”
As part of Adidas’ partnership with Parley for the Oceans, an organization devoted to the preservation of the world’s oceans, the companies gather plastic waste from beaches before it ends up in the ocean. Adidas then upcycles the collected plastic into yarn to make uppers for shoes.
And, according to executive board member responsible for global operations at Adidas, Gil Steyaert, sustainability doesn’t stop with footwear at Adidas.
“We also continue to improve our environmental performance during the manufacturing of our products,” Steyaert said. “This includes the use of sustainable materials, the reduction of CO2 emissions and waste prevention. In 2018 alone, we saved more than 40 tons of plastic waste in our offices, retail stores, warehouses and distribution centers worldwide and replaced it with more sustainable solutions.”
Adidas also signed the UN’s Climate Protection Charter for the Fashion Industry at the UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland this past December. In doing so, it agreed to decrease its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent in 2030 and also pledged to use only recycled polyester in its products by 2024. Adidas was also an early founder of the Better Cotton Initiative and currently sources only sustainably produced cotton.
In 2017, Adidas laid out a plan to achieve 20 percent water savings at strategic suppliers, 50 percent water savings at apparel material suppliers and 35 percent water savings per employee on site by 2020.
But, that wouldn’t mean much if Adidas wasn’t willing to walk the walk and prevent its own plastics from ending up at beaches combed by Parley.
“Where the use of plastics–for example in transport packaging–is still unavoidable, Adidas is relying on counterbalancing measures and promoting sustainable alternatives,” the brand said. “The company is currently supporting the global innovation platform Fashion for Good with a donation of 1.5 million euros ($1.72 million) which equates to the company’s environmental impact of plastic packaging.”
Additionally, Adidas has operated its retail locations without plastic bags since 2016.