Few companies can boast the ecological credentials that adidas has garnered over the years. The label’s continued collaboration with Parley for the Oceans, which lead to the development of the first performance running shoe whose upper was made entirely of yarns made from recycled marine plastic waste in 2015, evolves today with an ever-growing expansion into high performance sportswear and lifestyle apparel made from premium fibres created from upcycled marine plastic waste.
Last week inside a warehouse located in Brooklyn, New York, the sports house revealed its latest innovation: the first fully recyclable performance running shoe that it has named Futurecraft Loop. Made entirely from 100 per cent TPU, which has been spun into yarn, knitted into the shoes’ upper, and also moulded and clean fused to form the company’s trademark Boost midsole, adidas’ solution for tackling the plastic waste problem closes the manufacturing loop, as its raw materials can be repurposed and reused to make another pair of running shoes.
‘FUTURECRAFT.LOOP is our first running shoe that is made to be remade,’ says Eric Liedtke, an executive board member at the company who’s responsible for Global Brands. ‘It is a statement of our intent to take responsibility for the entire life of our product; proof that we can build high-performance running shoes that you don’t have to throw away.’
‘Taking plastic waste out of the system is the first step, but we can’t stop there,’ he adds. ‘The next step is to end the concept of “waste” entirely. Our dream is that you can keep wearing the same shoes over and over again.’
Because sports footwear is typically composed of several different materials, and even complex material mixes with the component all being glued together, recycling sports shoes rarely occurs – downcycling, which sees the separation of these components and recycling only what can be recovered, is the only possibility in most cases. Created completely from one material and made without any glue, adidas proposes that once its Future Craft Loop shoes come to the end of their life, they can be returned to adidas, washed, then ground into pellets and then melted down into the material needed to make a new pair of the same shoes.
The launch event also saw the first generation of Future Craft Loop sneakers – a limited edition run of 200 pairs – released into the world. The global beta program will see its owners run, wear and then return the shoes, ahead of a second-generation release. An example of prototyping in its purest sense, the feedback and insight gleaned from these two phases will impact the wider targeted release of the Future Craft Loop shoes set for S/S 2021.
‘We set out to create a new type of product that we can take back, grind up and reapply into new adidas product,’ says Tanyaradzwa Sahanga, who manages Technology Innovation at adidas. ‘There were times when it didn’t seem like we could get over some of the technical hurdles – now we’ve made the first leap, the playing field has changed. We cannot create a circular future on our own, we are going to need each other. We’re excited to see this first step come to life as part of the beta launch.’