Adidas has already been making great strides to rid the world of plastic waste – and now they are taking it one step further by introducing a 100% recyclable performance running shoe that is “made to be remade.”
Sports footwear typically include complex material mixes and component gluing which result in a shoe that can only be downcycled.
After almost a decade of research and development, however, Adidas has refined the process to create the Futurecraft.Loop: a shoe that uses only one type of material and no glue.
Each component is made from 100% reusable TPU – it’s spun to yarn, knitted, molded and clean-fused. Once the shoes come to the end of their first life and are returned to Adidas – they are washed, ground to pellets and melted into material for components for a new pair of shoes, with zero waste and nothing thrown away.
The project is aimed at tackling the problem of plastic waste, enabling a “closed loop” or circular manufacturing model, where the raw materials can be repurposed again and again. But not just repurposed into a water bottle or a tote – but into another pair of high-performance running shoes.
In 2015, Adidas introduced the first footwear concept with its upper materials made entirely of yarns and filaments from reclaimed and recycled marine plastic waste and illegal deep-sea gillnets. In 2019, Adidas will produce 11 million pairs of shoes containing recycled ocean plastic through intercepting plastic waste on beaches, remote islands, and in coastal communities.
Adidas is now committed to using only recycled polyester in every one of their products and applications where a solution exists by 2024.
“Taking plastic waste out of the system is the first step, but we can’t stop there,” said Eric Liedtke, an Executive Board Member at adidas. “What happens to your shoes after you’ve worn them out? You throw them away – except there is no away. There are only landfills and incinerators and ultimately an atmosphere choked with excess carbon, or oceans filled with plastic waste. The next step is to end the concept of ‘waste’ entirely. Our dream is that you can keep wearing the same shoes over and over again.
“Futurecraft.Loop is our first running shoe that is made to be remade. It is a statement of our intent to take responsibility for the entire life of our product; proof that we can build high-performance running shoes that you don’t have to throw away.”
The first generation of Futurecraft.Loop is rolling out as part of a global beta program with 200 influencers from across the world’s major cities. Adidas is asking them to run, return the shoes, and share feedback on their experience ahead of the second-generation drop.
The insights will then be used to shape the roadmap for the wider release targeted for the spring or summer of 2021.
Tanyaradzwa Sahanga, who is the manager of Adidas’s innovation department, commented: “There were times when it didn’t seem like we could get over some of the technical hurdles – now we’ve made the first leap, the playing field has changed.
“We cannot create a circular future on our own, we are going to need each other. We’re excited to see this first step come to life as part of the beta launch.”