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Adidas to Use Sustainable Materials in Over 60% Of Products in 2021

From recycled ocean plastic to fungus leather, sustainable materials will make up more than 60 percent of all Adidas products in 2021, the company said.

With the year drawing to a close, the active apparel and footwear giant outlined its sustainable initiatives and goals earlier this week.

Starting in 2024, Adidas plans to shift to using only recycled polyester. As part of this effort, it said it will further step up its use of recycled ocean plastic through its relationship with Parley for the Oceans. Five years after introducing its first shoe with the organization, Adidas used ocean waste to produce more than 15 million pairs of footwear this year. In 2021, it expects to bring that total to 17 million pairs.

The company’s shift to recycled polyester led to the rollout of two new recycled materials this year: Primeblue and Primegreen. The technologies have featured in product releases throughout 2020, from face masks and activewear to vegan rereleases of some of its classic shoes, such as the Superstar, Stan Smith and Continental 80.

Adidas has also been working to create an entirely recyclable shoe. In October, it raffled off 1,500 pairs of the Ultraboost DNA Loop. Made entirely from a single material from sole to laces, the sneaker can be shredded to pieces at the end of its lifecycle and reused. This spring, the company plans to launch the running shoe’s successor in a larger volume.

Adidas plans to launch the Ultraboost DNA Loop's successor this spring
Ultraboost DNA Loop Adidas

Though Adidas has used exclusively sustainable cotton since 2018, it said it is participating in the development of recycled materials. In partnership with Finnish start-up Infinite Fiber, for example, it and other partners are developing a process to transform used clothes into a cotton-like material.

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Additionally, Adidas said it is working with its partners to develop a purely biological leather alternative made from mycelium, the vegetative part of a fungus, with plans to use it for the first time in footwear this year. The company has also committed to Vier Pfoten, an animal protection organization, to completely ban furs from its manufacturing process.

Having reduced the overall carbon footprint of all company sites by more than 50 percent since 2015, Adidas is working with its suppliers to implement climate and environmental protection measures at the sites of partners in the supply chain. Various projects with suppliers aim to reduce carbon emissions and water consumption as well as preserve an intact environment, it said. The company’s objective, it added, is to reach climate neutrality by 2050 globally and at all suppliers.

In September, Adidas issued a 500 million euro ($613 million) sustainability bond that it said was five times oversubscribed. The company plans to put the proceeds from the offering toward endeavors such as procuring recycled materials, investing into renewable energy production and supporting underrepresented communities, it said.