The global sportswear maker Adidas announced it is racing to make its products more sustainable, committing to using only recycled plastic by 2024. The pledge to eliminate the use of “virgin” plastic includes polyester. Used in everything from t-shirts to sports bras, the material is popular in sportswear because it dries quickly and weighs little.
“We aim to use 100% recycled polyester in every product and on every application where a solution exists by 2024,” Adidas spokeswoman Maria Culp wrote in a statement.
Adidas also said it would stop using virgin plastic in its offices, retail outlets, warehouses and distribution centers, a move that would save an estimated 40 tons of plastic per year, starting in 2018. To start, the company’s 2019 spring and summer line will contain around 41% recycled polyester, Culp said.
The label isn’t the only global brand dedicated to decreasing its plastic use. Last week, Starbucks announced it would be removing plastic straws from all of its stores, and McDonald’s is trialing a similar program in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Ikea is phasingout single-use plastic from its stores and restaurants, while LEGO is now making new toys from sustainable, plant-based plastic.
Adidas is also experiencing a sharp increase in sales of its Parley shoes, which are made with plastic waste that has been intercepted before it reaches the ocean. While still a small share of its global sales, Adidas expects purchases to jump to 5 million pairs this year compared to 1 million in 2017.
Research shows there will be more plastic than fish by weight in the world’s oceans by 2050. Global use of plastic has increased 20-fold over the past 50 years and is expected to double again in the next 20 years. The material is cheap and versatile, but governments and consumers are increasingly aware of its huge environmental costs.
On a global basis, only 14% of plastic is collected for recycling. The reuse rate is terrible compared to other materials — 58% of paper and up to 90% of iron and steel is recycled.
Let’s hope Adidas initiative will inspire more companies to incorporate eco-conscious designs in their products and take a step forward in becoming a sustainable company.
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