Adidas made a commitment this week to eliminate the use of virgin plastic for manufacturing by 2024. The German sportswear company will only use recycled plastic from that point on.
Apparel companies rely on virgin plastic to produce polyester, a material popular for everything from T-shirts to sports bras due to its lightweight and quick-drying nature, CNN Money’s Ivana Kottasová pointed out. “Adidas said its apparel line for the spring and summer of 2019 will contain around 41% recycled polyester,” she wrote.
Last month Adidas launched a new hoodie made from Parley Ocean Plastic yarn. The thread is made from plastic that has been intercepted from beaches and in coastal environments, the sportswear company explained. Adidas and the global network Parley first began collaborating in 2015.
The hoodie is the latest addition to the company’s Parley products. CNN Money reported that Adidas expects sales of its Parley shoes made from intercepted plastic to go from 1 million pairs last year to 5 million this year.
However, the switch to all-recycled plastic for products will take time. Eric Liedtke, head of Adidas’ global brands, told Financial Times journalist Olaf Storbeck that about 50% of the material used in the 920 million individual items Adidas sells is polyester. “With those kind of volumes, we cannot make the transition overnight,” he said.
A number of apparel brands have been increasing their use of recycled materials recently. That includes Patagonia and H&M, Storbeck wrote.
Thread International makes fabric from recycled plastics used by brands like Marmot, Timberland, and the Adidas subsidiary Reebok, Storbeck reported. Brenda Haitema, who leads supply chain operations there, told him that she expects costs to shift in the future. “Prices will come down as we develop more capacity to collect, clean and process used plastics,” she said.
Beyond manufacturing, Adidas also vowed to stop using virgin plastic in the company’s offices, retail outlets, warehouses, and distribution centers starting this year, which will save around 40 tons of plastic annually, Kottasová reported.