For more than a year, Adidas has been teasing the release of a shoe made almost entirely from discarded plastic fished out of the oceans. It revealed its first prototype of the sustainable sneaker, created in collaboration with environmental organization Parley for the Oceans, in June 2015. Finally, in mid-November, the first mass-produced quantity—7,000 pairs, to be exact—will go on sale, and according to Adidas, that’s just the start.
“We will make one million pairs of shoes using Parley Ocean Plastic in 2017—and our ultimate ambition is to eliminate virgin plastic from our supply chain,” Eric Liedtke, an Adidas executive board member responsible for global brands, said in a Nov. 4 statement.
The initial batch of sneakers, called the UltraBoost Uncaged Parley, will be made of 95% plastic debris, such as bottles and packaging, that has been reprocessed into a new textile. Parley captured the litter in the coastal areas of the Maldives. The remaining 5% of the sneaker is recycled polyester, and the laces, heel lining, and other parts are made of recycled materials as well. The sneakers also feature Adidas’ popular Boost sole.
Adidas’s goal of removing all virgin plastic from its supply chain is ambitious, but certainly worthy. One study concluded the equivalent of 136 billion milk jugs are dumped in the oceans each year, and the material doesn’t break down. More recycling efforts are needed, and since plastic, usually in the form of polyester, is a main component of a great deal of apparel and footwear, Adidas’ project with Parley offers a smart way to turn the problem into a resource.
“At this point, it’s no longer just about raising awareness,” Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans, said in a statement. “It’s about taking action and implementing strategies that can end the cycle of plastic pollution for good. Eco-innovation is an open playing field.”
The companies also created jerseys from the reclaimed plastic for soccer clubs Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. Bayern will wear its jersey at its Nov. 5 game against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, while Real Madrid will play its Nov. 26 match against Real Sporting de Gijón in the jerseys.