Adidas made headlines in 2015 when they announced they had designed a shoe made almost entirely from garbage. They did it again in March this year when it was revealed they had sold more than 1 million pairs of their ocean plastic shoes in 2017. Now, they are doing it once more with the news that by 2024, the company will only use plastic that has been recycled first.
The decision was first reported in the Financial Times (FT), following an interview with executive board member Eric Liedtke.
According to Liedtke, by the time its spring and summer collection hits stores in 2019, roughly 41 percent of polyester used in Adidas sportswear will be recycled. Within six years, the company plans to have made a complete transition to recycled polyester, meaning 100 percent of polyester used in its products will be recycled (not "virgin").
But that’s not all. The sportswear giant has also said it will cut out virgin plastic in all its stores, offices, warehouses, and distribution plastics – starting this year. According to CNN Money, that would save roughly 36 tonnes (40 tons) of plastic a year, which just so happens to be equivalent to the weight of 3.5 blue whales.
One of the problems companies have with moving to recycled plastics is cost. According to the FT, recycled polyester is 10 to 20 percent more expensive than the virgin sort. Roughly half of the material used in Adidas products is polyester, Liedtke explains, which means the switch cannot be made instantaneously. The hope is that as demand becomes higher for recycled products, this price gap will start to close.
Adidas isn't the only fashion brand getting in on the sustainable bandwagon. Stella McCartney, Patagonia, and H&M have all made pledges of some kind to help tackle the growing problem of plastic pollution. Meanwhile, LEGO got involved by introducing a range of sustainable, plant-based plastic bricks earlier this year, and both cities and companies like Seattle and Starbucks have introduced (or are in the process of introducing) bans on single-use items, such as plastic straws.
These actions are in response to the news that 8 million tonnes (88 million tons) of plastic head out into the ocean each year and, if nothing is done to stop it, plastic pollution is set to triple by 2025. By 2050, there may be more plastic pollution than fish.
And while the solution is not perfect (recycled plastics still shed harmful microparticles), it is a start.