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Adidas: more than 60 percent of products will be made with sustainable materials in 2021

By Simone Preuss

29 Dec 2020

From football jerseys made with recycled polyester to the vegan version of the iconic Stan Smith – in 2021, for the first time, more than 60 percent of all Adidas products will be made with sustainable materials like recycled polyester or sustainably grown cotton. Consumers can spot them easily by their ‘Primeblue’- and ‘Primegreen’ labels, which were introduced in 2020.

Adidas’ great objective: to end the global plastic crisis and with it, plastic waste. That is why from 2024 onward, Adidas will shift to using only recycled polyester. Since 2018, the company has been using sustainable cotton exclusively.

“Sustainability is an integral part of the Adidas business philosophy. We have continued to invest in sustainability initiatives during the coronavirus pandemic and we will significantly expand our range of sustainable products in 2021. To this end, for example, we have worked with our suppliers to create the structures that make it possible to process recycled materials on a large scale. Not only does our commitment make Adidas more sustainable, but it also drives the development of the whole industry,” said Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted in a press release on Monday.

Adidas focuses on reusability and vegan products

Since 2015, Adidas has been collaborating with the environmental organization Parley for the Oceans. One of the goals is to more than double the amount of recycled sneakers. In 2021, Adidas aims to produce 17 million pairs of shoes with recycled plastic waste collected from beaches and coastal regions, after more than 15 million in 2020.

Adidas also considers the reusability of sneakers at the end of their life cycle during product development itself: The Ultraboost DNA Loop, for example, which was raffled off to interested consumers in October 2020 for the first time, is made from one single material from sole to laces and is welded without glue. Once the shoe reaches the end of its life cycle, it can be shredded to pieces and reused. In the spring of 2021, Adidas will launch its successor in a larger volume.

“For Adidas, sustainability means using less plastic and fewer animal materials,” promises the sportswear giant who is already completely fur-free. In 2020, Adidas launched vegan versions of several classics such as the Stan Smith, which quickly became bestsellers.

In 2021, Adidas will seek to break new ground: Together with partners, the company is developing a new material, a purely biological leather alternative made from mycelium, and will use it for the very first time in the creation of footwear. Further details about this project were not disclosed.

Sustainability that goes beyond products

The company also focuses on sustainability beyond its products: Adidas is working with its suppliers to achieve climate neutrality worldwide and in the entire supply chain by 2050. For its own operations, the company relies on photovoltaic systems with an installed capacity of now 1.4 megawatts that generate green electricity. “Adidas has reduced its overall carbon footprint at its company sites by more than 50 percent compared to 2015,” reports the sportswear giant.

The company is also thinking of its investors in terms of sustainability and placed its first sustainability bond for 500 million euros (around 600 million US dollars/450 British pounds) in September 2020. Proceeds from the offering will be used in endeavours such as procuring recycled materials, investing in renewable energy production and supporting underrepresented communities.

Photos: Adidas