Naturally it was a PR coup when Adidas presented its “plastic waste sneaker” at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris late last year. The sports giant from Herzogenaurach nevertheless means its new ecological approach seriously, and aims to actually bring the footwear manufactured using ocean waste to stores in the next few months.
“The shoe that we presented for the first time in June 2015 at the United Nations was just a prototype. Since then, we’ve worked on transforming old drift nets from the ocean into fibers that can be used for manufacturing a performance shoe,” Silvia Raccagni tells ISPO.com. Successfully, as the Adidas spokeswoman on the topic of sustainability confirms: “Together with our partner Parley for the Oceans, we’re working on a consumer-ready pallet of footwear that we’ll be bringing to the market over the course of 2016.” Although the shoes are the priority, clothing products are also being worked on “Which will be available for customers in the second half of 2016.”
The spectacular sneakers and even t-shirts will actually be buyable soon, where people can look chic and still do something for the environment at the same time. Each year, eight million tons of plastic waste find their way into the oceans. With fatal consequences for ecosystems – ultimately, it takes hundreds of years before the plastic naturally degrades. Poisonous chemicals result from the degradation process. Many marine animals also mistake the plastic for food and perish. The same horrible fate looms when fish, seals, or other marine animals become entangled in the remains of fishing nets.
Exactly these materials – washed up fishing nets, usually from illegal deep sea fishing, as well as plastic waste from the ocean – are now being recycled by Adidas and used for shoe production. The surface is to consist of a plastic structure similar to rope, the midsole of marine waste. “The midsole made of marine plastic with the 3D printer is a good example of how we can set new industry standards by scrutinizing the raison d’être of everything we create,” said Adidas board member Eric Liedtke at the shoe’s presentation in Paris, “We want to bring the entire industry on board in order to find common, sustainable solutions for global problems.”
The garbage-shoe isn’t the only initiative by the German sporting goods giant. Fittingly, the company has also ceased using microplastics in body care products and also done away with plastic bags in its stores this year. Through that alone, almost 30 million plastic bags have been saved worldwide, and thus have not made their way into the oceans. So the sustainability message also catches on with employees, in November 2015, 20 Adidas employees took part in a program by the marine protection organization Parley for the Oceans , ridding coastal regions of plastic waste.