In 2016, Adidas announced that it was creating a shoe made entirely out of ocean plastic and gillnets, which are used in fishing. The creation of the shoe was the result of a partnership with Parley for the Oceans, a conservation group committed to cleaning up the oceans. The shoe was released several months after the initial announcement was made. Recently, the company revealed that over 1 million pairs of this design were sold last year, and another 5 million pairs are expected to fly off of shelves this year.
But, that’s far from the only exciting announcement that Adidas made. The CEO, Kasper Rorsted, also announced that the company is planning on incorporating recycled ocean plastic into every single one of their designs by 2024.
Pledging to use more ocean plastic in the production process is admirable–and it’s also a lofty goal. Adidas produces around 450 million pairs of shoes annually. Since the company is only selling around 5 million pairs of recycled plastic shoes this year, they will need to quickly figure out a way to process a lot more recycled plastic in order to meet this goal by 2024.
The Problem With Using Recycled Ocean Plastic
The plastic that is taken out of the oceans must be processed and converted into yarn prior to being incorporated into an Adidas design. Taking plastic out of the ocean and finding another use for it may seem smart, but many environmentalists are not sold on the idea quite yet. This is because the plastic sheds while it is being converted to yarn, and the microfibers that it sheds are incredibly harmful to the environment. The microfibers absorb a number of different toxins before making their way back into the environment. These microfibers that now contain toxic substances are then consumed by animals, which are consumed by humans.
However, this does not mean that recycling plastic is not good for the environment. The vast majority of environmentalists agree that recycling plastic in this manner is much more environmentally friendly than using new plastic to produce shoes and other products.
Will Adidas Meet its Goal?
It’s impossible to predict whether or not Adidas will meet its goal of incorporating recycled ocean plastics into all of the company’s designs by 2024. But, it is safe to say that the leadership team at Adidas seems fully committed to the cause. In fact, this isn’t the first time that the company has announced plans to reduce their carbon footprint. Prior to the partnership with Parley for the Oceans, Adidas revealed that they were in the process of removing plastic bags from all of their retail stores. The company also established recycling programs in various major cities to encourage consumers to recycle their Adidas gear. Adidas also partnered with their suppliers to reduce energy and water usage by 20% and 50%, respectively.Clearly, this company is on a mission to do its part to protect the environment. It’s too early to tell whether the company will meet its goal, but regardless of the outcome, they should be applauded for their efforts.