An estimated 4.8 million metric tons of plastic waste enter our oceans each year—that’s 13,000 metric tons per day. As plastics don’t biodegrade, this mass of artificial junk is slowly accumulating in the ocean, poisoning some marine life outright and killing others that mistake the toxic bits for food. While this problem may seem insurmountable by the sheer magnitude of plastic waste that is now floating in our oceans (to put it in perspective, in 1961 only eight million metric tons of plastic were produced annually), a seemingly unlikely company is helping lead the charge in chipping away at this plastic pollution through the best way it knows how: sporting gear.
The company in question is Adidas, and their solution is a new, high-performance shoe made entirely from recycled ocean waste. Based on the design of Adidas’s previously unveiled “Futurecraft 3D” concept shoe, which features a unique, 3D-printed midsole, Adidas’s new recycled shoe replaces the Futurecraft’s plastic-based sole with recycled polyester and fishing nets retrieved from ocean waste. In addition, the new shoe will substitute the previous design’s yarns with fibers broken down from ocean plastic and illegal deep-sea gillnets.
Adidas’s recycled shoe is crafted in partnership with Parley for the Oceans, a conservation group founded in 2013 that is committed to the protection and conservation of Earth’s oceans. This partnership feeds into Adidas’ new three-pronged approach to help conserve the world’s oceans, dubbed “AIR,” or “Avoid, Intercept, Redesign.” In addition to the production of their new, 3D-printed shoe, Adidas’s new commitment plans to fade out both plastic bags in retail stores and plastic microbeads in body care products, both of which contribute to plastic ocean waste. In addition, the company will position several Adidas employees as ambassadors for Parley for the Oceans, helping push forward the new conservation group’s mission.
Adidas’s recycled shoe line is set to be released later this year.