The host had deliberately given his introduction in the CSR Hub in Hall B6 of OutDoor by ISPO a slightly dark touch. "Every minute a truckload of plastic lands in the oceans," suddenly stood there on the screen that was plopping up behind him. Later followed: "You can find plastic in 90 percent of the seabirds and more than half of the sea turtles." To add, "By 2050, there could be more plastic in the oceans than fish in terms of weight."
Further admonishing words followed to the completely filled grandstand: "More than 70 percent of the earth is blue," he noted, and "the air for every second breather we make is created by the ocean.
Why this threat? Clearly, because ocean waste and microplastics are among the greatest problems of our time. They also make it difficult for all retailers in general, but also for sports retailers in particular, to produce sustainably.
However, this was not the only reason why the moderator presented the sometimes frightening numbers. He said this mainly because he wanted to draw attention to a project that deals with the fight against ocean waste: Adidas x Parley.
The sporting goods giant has been working with the New York environmental lobby organisation "Parley for the Oceans" since 2015. "Sustainability is one of the most important issues for our company," says Tim Janaway, Senior Vice President of Adidas Outdoor. "That's why we wanted to cooperate with Parley."
The organization describes itself as a "place where developers, thinkers and leaders come together to raise awareness of the beauty and fragility of the oceans". Adidas's first major project was a running shoe made partly of ocean plastic that sold better and better over the years. In 2019, eleven million Parley sneakers are to be produced; it is an unprecedented success story of sustainability.
Janaway says about the shoe that it was the "milestone". He also raised the cooperation once again to a higher pedestal. "It was the first time anyone ever made a performance product out of plastic waste."
Other recent projects include football jerseys, for example for FC Bayern, or the national teams that wore warm-up jerseys made of recycled sea plastic at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The story of Adidas x Parley is a special one simply because of its manufacturing chain: from plastic waste to sports products. But how does the merger work?
Seven steps are necessary for this, Janaway says, the first four are mainly Parley input, the following Adidas accounts.
- First there's the garbage, like in the Maldives,
- then the garbage is collected by partner organizations.
- It's being sent to Parley Supply Chain Partners.
- Where it's processed.
- The now created polyester
- Is further processed into Adidas products.
- And then distributed as a high-quality product.
At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the companies worked together with partners and cleaned the beaches, Janaway was there as well - and experienced "a special experience". Another marketing activity of Adidas is the "Run for the Oceans", which takes place in June. "Last year we ran more than twelve million kilometers together," says Timothy Olson, US American ultrarunner and Adidas athlete.
Adidas gave money to schools for every kilometre walked by the 2.2 million people around the world to help educate and raise children's awareness of the need to avoid plastic waste. One million US dollars came together in 2018 for the so-called "Parley Ocean School", this year the figure is expected to rise to 1.5 million.
In order to raise awareness of the need to avoid unnecessary waste, Olson also sees himself under an obligation. "As an influencer at Instagram, the word from us athletes has weight. Now that people are listening to me, I want to try to use that voice for something good. That's my job."