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adidas uses more than 50 percent recycled polyester in its products in 2020 for the first time

From 2024 onwards, adidas will use only recycled polyester in its products

This year adidas reaches a significant milestone on the road to sustainability: In 2020, for the first time, more than half of the polyester used in adidas products will come from recycled plastic waste. From 2024 onwards, the company is committed to using only recycled polyester.

In 2020, adidas also plans to produce a record 15 to 20 million pairs of shoes with plastic waste collected from beaches and coastal regions. Last year, adidas already produced more than eleven million pairs of such shoes.

The use of recycled plastic in products is part of the company's efforts to avoid plastic waste and stop the pollution of the world's oceans. The increasing use of recycled materials is just one example of adidas' sustainability activities. The spectrum ranges from using increasingly sustainable materials, waste prevention and new types of take-back programs for used products, to climate protection. In 2020, adidas will introduce new product categories based on sustainability criteria.

An overview:

  • From 2024 onwards, adidas will use only recycled polyester in every product and on every application where a solution exists. This year the share will already exceed 50 percent for the first time.
  • In 2020, adidas will produce 15 to 20 million pairs of shoes using recycled plastic waste from beaches and coastal regions. Last year, the figure was more than eleven million pairs, compared to five million in 2018 and one million in 2017.
  • The first fully recyclable running shoe “Futurecraft Loop” has been in the test phase since 2019. The market launch is planned for 2021.
  • adidas is already working on the development of bio-fabricated materials for sports apparel and presented first prototypes for tennis wear prior to last year’s Wimbledon tournament.
  • Avoiding plastic on the route to consumers: adidas eliminated plastic bags from its stores in 2016 and will also use recycled packaging to deliver products to stores in the future.
  • Plastic-free locations: adidas sites are now largely plastic-free. Around 40 tonnes of plastic waste are avoided each year.
  • Since 2019, consumers in the UK have been receiving a voucher for the adidas online store when they return used but still functional products.
  • In terms of climate protection, by 2030, adidas will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from both its own activities and those of its suppliers by 30 percent compared to the year 2017. Climate neutrality is on the agenda for 2050. In Germany, the company already sources almost all its electricity from renewable sources.
  • Workplace standards set mandatory requirements for fair working conditions, appropriate wages and a safe working environment at suppliers. 

Recycling and use of sustainable materials

In addition to increasing the use of recycled materials in production, adidas is also working on making products easy to recycle with the goal of completely eliminating waste. The first fully recyclable running shoe, “Futurecraft Loop”, is made from a single recyclable material from sole to laces and is fused together without the need for glue. After an initial test phase with 200 athletes last year, the shoes were returned to adidas and the company recycled them into components for new shoes. This second generation of “Futurecraft Loop” shoes is already back in the testers’ hands. The market launch is planned for 2021. 

In the long term, products made from renewable raw materials will also make an important contribution to waste reduction. adidas and Stella McCartney presented the jointly developed prototype of a tennis dress made of bio-fabricated materials based on cellulose and protein prior to last year’s Wimbledon tournament. In the coming years, adidas will develop bio-fabricated products for its consumers. Reebok already uses renewable resources, including cotton, corn, algae and natural rubber to produce the Reebok Cotton + Corn and Reebok Forever Floatride Grow shoes.

Since 2018, adidas has been sourcing 100 percent sustainably produced cotton, mainly from the Better Cotton Initiative.

Take-back offers for consumers

To establish complete circular recycling processes, adidas has been testing consumer-friendly solutions for the return of used products since last year. In the UK, the program “Infinite Play” allows consumers to return adidas footwear or apparel to adidas partner Stuffstr using the adidas app and to receive a voucher for the company’s online store. The returned products will be resold or, if that is not possible, recycled.

At adidas, the avoidance of plastic waste also includes transportation to consumers. Plastic bags have not been used in adidas stores since 2016. From 2021 onwards, packaging used to transport products from the manufacturing countries to the store shelves will also be made from recycled materials. At the same time, adidas is testing a recycling loop for transport packaging in Spain as part of the global innovation platform “Fashion for Good”.

Climate neutrality by 2050

As a signatory to the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, adidas has committed to reduce both its own and its suppliers’ greenhouse gas emissions compared to 2017 by 30 percent by 2030 and to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. To this end, the company will continue to promote the use of renewable energies in the coming years. In Germany, the company already sources almost all its electricity from renewable sources.

Running for the preservation of the oceans

Since 2015, adidas has been cooperating with the environmental organization “Parley for the Oceans”. The adidas x Parley products, which are made with plastic waste from beaches and coastal regions, are intended to contribute to the preservation of the world’s oceans. In addition, adidas organizes the annual “Run for the Oceans”. Last year, 2.2 million runners took part in 50 running events worldwide, including events in New York, Shanghai and Barcelona. adidas rewarded the commitment of the runners and donated $ 1.5 million to its partner “Parley for the Oceans” for educational projects for children in developing countries. The curriculum includes the importance of the oceans for our planet as well as practical tips on how to avoid waste.

The response was also very positive within the company: In 2019, around 2,500 participants took part in the run at the headquarters in Herzogenaurach alone, and more than 17,000 employees participated worldwide. At some locations, waste was also collected during the runs.

By largely eliminating plastic at office locations as well as in stores and warehouses, adidas avoids around 40 tonnes of plastic waste per year. For example, the HQ site in Herzogenaurach is now plastic-free.

Sustainability is a tradition at adidas – high supplier standards

For 20 years, adidas has been listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, which includes criteria such as corporate governance, risk management and climate protection as well as labor and environmental standards both within the company and at its suppliers.

A major contribution is made by the strict workplace standards at adidas, which also set binding requirements for suppliers with regard to fair working conditions, appropriate wages, and a safe and environment-friendly working environment. adidas monitors these standards through regular in-house inspections by its own team of experts as well as through independent third-party inspections.