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More Sustainable Materials and Circular Services

In addition to using recycled content or more sustainable material for our products, we steadily expand our circular service offering.

As part of our Own the Game strategy, we aim to move to a comprehensive sustainable offering at scale. Our ambition is that 90% of our articles will be sustainable by 2025. We define articles as sustainable when they show environmental benefits versus conventional articles due to the materials used, meaning that they are – to a significant degree – made with environmentally preferred materials. The majority of these are recycled materials or more sustainable cotton. At the same time, innovative materials such as biobased synthetics, and more sustainably grown natural materials are used in a small scale already and will become increasingly relevant in the future.     

In 2015, adidas presented the first adidas x Parley running shoe made with recycled plastic waste intercepted from beaches and coastal communities at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Since then, adidas has aggressively tackled the use of plastic and introduced recycled polyester across its entire product range. By 2024, adidas will only use recycled polyester wherever possible. Today, more than 90 percent of the polyester used is recycled polyester. 

Using recycled materials is just the first step. adidas is also working on expanding its circular service offering, taking back used products to extend product lifespan through re-commerce and re-use, as well as repurposing materials to reduce waste. Under the label “Made to be Remade,” we create products that are designed with circularity in mind. These products only use materials which can be returned into an existing recycling stream at the end of their useful lives. For example, this means products could be created with just one material and once they reach the end of their useful life, they can be shredded and recycled for use in new products. Since April 2021, an Ultraboost running shoe has been available under the Made to be Remade label. The shoe features a prominently displayed QR code that can be scanned using the adidas app and guides consumers through the takeback process. Other MTBR products include the Stan Smith MTBR and Terrex Free Hiker MTBR, and MTBR apparel products for Running and adidas Stella McCartney. Additional products will follow over time. While we are successfully recycling products made from single materials, going forward we will innovate around products made from multiple materials and increase numbers to drive impact at scale. 

In the meantime, we have also launched ‘Choose to Give Back’, a resale program for worn products. Starting in October of 2021 in the U.S., clothing, shoes, and accessories in any condition and made by any brand can be sent to us. Products in good condition are resold through our partner, thredUP, with the aim of finding a new owner for as many products as possible. This is part of our commitment to extend the lifecycle of our products, and going forward, we will scale the program and roll it out to more markets.  

Partnerships for innovation

Together with partners, we are working hard to create sustainable, fashionable, performance wear. adidas is collaborating with startups, such as Spinnova, Infinited Fiber and Pond, to work on materials made of natural resources that we can use in our product. Together, we are striving to substitute fossil-based plastic materials with plant-based raw materials, all without compromising our performance proposition.  

  • Together with Spinnova, we have developed a textile fiber derived from natural base materials, such as wood waste, without using harmful chemicals.

  • adidas is collaborating with the Infinited Fiber Company, and together we have developed a cellulose-based material derived from recycled cotton-rich textile waste and boasts properties like those of cotton with a lower carbon footprint compared to conventional materials.  

  • adidas is working with Danish startup Pond on the development of a recyclable, high-performance material derived from plant waste. In addition to developing textiles, the adidas Innovation team is driving the development of footwear cushioning made from sustainable base materials that can be processed with a reduced impact on the environment compared to conventional materials.