The one word of advice Dustin Hoffman’s character got in The Graduate? Plastics. “There’s a great future in plastics,” he was told. That future, it turns out, has been one of great convenience, but also unimaginable pollution to the planet.
Adidas is hoping the future will be plastic (waste) free. As Fast Company reports, the global brand is leading the sportswear and fashion industry in moving away from the oil-derived, non-biodegradable material, with the hope of ending plastic waste by 2030.
“This will involve using recycled materials and designing fully recyclable products in the short term,” writes Fast Company. “Longer term, the company’s goal is to switch to biodegradable materials.”
It’s an ambitious goal, to be sure, but Adidas has already made great strides. According to a January press release, over 50 percent of the polyester used in Adidas products will come from plastic waste in 2020, with a goal of 100 percent set for 2024. Also this year, the company will be increasing its production of shoes made with recycled plastic waste from beaches and coasts from 11 million to 15-20 million.
What about other forms of plastic? “We can’t say that we’re working to end plastic waste unless we think about all plastic in our supply chain,” James Carnes, vice president of brand strategy at Adidas, told Fast Company. “I can confidently say that in the next 10 years, we’ll have the technology to do so.”
Even if companies like Adidas have the means, it remains to be seen if they have the will. As the global population starts to take plastic pollution and the threat of climate change seriously, the oil and gas sector that’s to blame for these crises is actually working overtime to increase plastic production, not to mention the side effect that is greenhouse-gas emissions.
Thankfully, companies like Adidas have been working on eco-friendly initiatives for years, and they’re not going back. As Fast Company notes, “Adidas began developing its current sustainability strategy in 2015,” and some of its most highly anticipated products — like the Futurecraft Loop, a fully recyclable running shoe — are years into testing.
Can you save the planet from drowning in plastic by buying a pair of Futurecraft Loops when they debut in 2021? Of course not. But by then, maybe other companies will copy Adidas and we’ll see an arms race to get rid of plastic, instead of increasing pollution.
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