Earlier this year, Adidas unveiled their most eco-friendly trainer yet, the ‘UltraBOOST DNA Loop’, the third generation of the Loop series. Launching via raffle tomorrow, on the 21st October 2020, Adidas is enabling more people to get their hands on a pair, for the first time ever. The Ultraboost silhouette is one of the most popular models from Adidas, so much so that GQ refers to Adidas's history in terms of B.B. (Before Boost) and A.B. (After Boost). Many have praised the comfort of the famous white foam sole that has set new standards in the sneaker market—so it’s no wonder that the brand keeps gravitating towards transforming it into eco-friendly iterations.
Adidas’ efforts to create a fully recyclable sneaker has spanned for the last half-decade, and their partnership with environmental organisation Parley for the Oceans has been a vital part of the process. In 2015, the sportswear giants and the eco-innovations company showcased a prototype Ultraboost sneaker made entirely of recycled ocean plastic and gill nets at the United Nations. The shoe kickstarted a long-term partnership between Adidas and Parley, which has since pioneered sustainable innovation by transforming plastic pollution into performance sportswear.
Founded in 2012 by German-born designer and creative entrepreneur Cyrill Gutsch, the non-profit organisation collaborates with businesses to ‘develop alternative business models and ecologically sensible products to give us earthlings an alternative choice’. Parley Ocean Plastics are created from upcycled marine plastic waste, which is shredded and reworked to become high-performance polyester yarn, the key component in all Adidas x Parley collections.
In 2016, 7,000 pairs of ‘UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley’ sneakers were released—the first massed produced ocean plastic shoe. The upper body of the shoe was constructed out of 95% ocean waste intercepted in the Maldives, whilst the remaining 5% consists of recycled materials. The following year, 1 million Adidas x Parley sneakers were sold, and the partners set their sights even higher by introducing the Parley A.I.R. Strategy, an acronym for "avoid, intercept, and redesign." The first step, avoid, saw a transition towards paper bags in retail stores, which would approximately save 70 million plastic bags, eventually moving towards eliminating virgin plastic entirely from its supply chain. Next, intercept meant collecting plastic waste as opposed to sourcing new materials which would pollute the ocean. Finally, Redesign is the transformation of plastic waste into wearable sneakers, that customers globally can enjoy.
The newest addition in Adidas x Parley’s quest to create a zero-waste shoe, is the ‘FUTURECRAFT.LOOP’ series. Topping the list of Time’s ‘Best Inventions of 2019’, it is the world’s first 100% recyclable sneakers. Made completely from a single material, each pair is welded together with heat, therefore expelling the use of glue (the number one culprit contaminating plastic recycling) so that it can be easily regenerated into a new material. Instead of throwing unwanted trainers away, customers can return it to Adidas, where 100% of each shoe will be reused to create future generations.
The final step in Adidas plans for global sustainable domination is to make all products entirely biodegradable. At present, there is no set deadline. But from what we have witnessed over the last five years, the accomplishments Adidas has achieved in partnership with Parley for the Oceans is certainly looking promising, so it may be coming sooner than we think.