Global sportswear giant adidas has pledged to switch to using only recycled polyester in its products over the next six years.
The company is already targeting sales of 5m recycled footwear products this year and 11m next year, while last year it sold 1m pairs of trainers made from 95% ocean waste, produced in partnership with Parley for the Oceans, which carries out clean-up operations on the world’s beaches.
It has also used ocean waste in some of the football kits it produces, including special edition kits for Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, while the uniforms it made for volunteers at the 2012 Olympic Games in London were made from recycled plastic bottles.
At present the brand says around 50% of the material used in the 920m items it sells each year is polyester and that recycled polyester is 10-20% more expensive than virgin polyester, hence the volume and costs involved mean making the transition to recycled polyester needs to be a gradual process.
“We have to make sure we take right-sized bites so that we can maintain our current margin structure,” head of adidas global brands Eric Liedke told the Financial Times. “We can absorb some costs every year, but we could not absorb it all in one year.”
Industry watchers welcomed the move by adidas but pointed out that event recycled polyester comes with its environmental hazards as it still sheds micro fibres, which are the biggest cause of plastics pollution in the oceans.