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Asics Wants to Halve Its Emissions By Convincing Runners to Give Back Race-Worn Apparel

Japenese footwear company, Asics, will partner with recycling specialists I:Collect (I:CO) in a sweeping apparel take-back program that offers Asics discounts to European marathon runners in exchange for used apparel and footwear as the company looks to cut its carbon emissions 55 percent by 2030.

Asics will set up recycling centers during eight marathons across Europe in 2019, starting with the Barcelona Marathon on Mar. 10. Runners will be able to give away their goods at either of two locations in the city to receive discount vouchers for future purchases from Asics. The company has also confirmed that the program will be present at the Paris Marathon in April and the Stockholm Marathon in June.

Asics will then deliver those goods to I:CO to be processed through its take-back system and separated into categories. Items fit to be reused will be processed for a “second life” and unusable items will be broken down and processed for complete recycling.

The goal behind Asics’ program is to reduce the net total carbon emissions it produces by placing a greater emphasis on reusing recycled fibers, Romy Miltenburg, manager of CSR and sustainability for the EMEA region at Asics says.

“As a product driven company, shifting to more sustainable materials and engaging our customers and consumers on our journey to a circular business model are at the heart of our sustainability strategy,” Miltenburg said in a statement. “Working on our global program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in alignment with the Science Based Targets initiative, we have identified that more than 80 percent of our CO2 emissions originate from the processes and materials we use to create our footwear and apparel and end of life treatment of sold products.”

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In order to be in compliance with Science Based Targets, plus a carbon emission reduction initiative operated in collaboration by the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project), the United Nations Global Compact, the World Resources Institute, and the World Wide Fund for Nature, Asics must set goals that will put it in line with the level of decarbonization required to keep global warming down to 2 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial levels—hence the 55 percent carbon emissions reduction target by 2030.

To help keep to that target, Asics has pledged to produce all of the merchandising materials and promotional material for the take-back program from sustainable materials. It will also produce all of the polyester fibers used in its 2019 marathon package from PET recycled materials, backed by a new commitment to investing in innovative technological solutions to advance its goal of manufacturing performance sports products with post-consumer materials.

At the end of January, Asics also announced a partnership with the Japanese Olympic team to produce its uniforms for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo using recycled clothing. For the next few months, Asics has asked Japanese citizens to return their “sportswear rich with memories” at Asics drop-off locations for use in the team’s uniforms.

I:CO, for its part, has landed some noteworthy partnerships in the retail and apparel industry in the last year. In March 2018, the recycling company partnered with Target to give its customers an option to turn in old denim for 20 percent off a new pair of jeans. In October, I:CO also partnered with Guess for a program called “Guess Resourced” that offered 15 percent off a new product with the return of five pieces of clothing or footwear to a Guess retail location.