Adidas to Sell 1 Million Sneakers Made From Parley’s Recycled Ocean Plastic

Adidas Parley for the Oceans Ultra
The insole of the limited Adidas x Parley for the Oceans Ultra Boost from July 2016.
Courtesy of Adidas.

In June 2015, Adidas announced its partnership with ocean protection organization Parley for the Oceans at the United Nations in New York. That relationship is about to yield its first mass-produced shoe.

Adidas confirmed Friday with Footwear News that by the end of 2017, it would produce — and expects to sell — 1 million pairs of shoes from an acclaimed sneaker franchise using recycled ocean plastic. The plastic was collected from the coastal areas in the Maldives, a Parley for the Oceans member.

Eric Liedtke, an Adidas group executive board member for global brands, said the shoe is coming at the right time, with current and future generations of sneaker consumers becoming more interested in backing causes to make the world a better place to live.

“The millennials and the centennials, they want to be purpose-driven, they want to help be a solution, but they don’t know how — and there’s too many companies out there that are just marketing that,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is allow them to opt in to solve big issues.”

Eric Liedtke Adidas Eric Liedtke. Adidas

Although the Parley shoe will feature materials atypical to other iterations of the currently unidentified model shoe, its performance attributes will be unaffected.

“You get the same superior fit, you get the same performance, but with ocean plastics,” Matthias Amm, running category director for Adidas, said of the shoe.

Liedtke added, “The consumer won’t accept compromise, and nor should we. We have to make sure that we give them exactly what they’re expecting. … You can’t compromise quality.”

Aside from news of an upcoming shoe release, Adidas and Parley for the Oceans said that 19 countries have shown initial interest in supporting the movement and becoming members as of its Sept. 22 meeting at the UN in New York.

“The time of speaking, the time of testing, the time of experimenting is over. We need to move fast,” said Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans. “We are at war with the oceans without knowing it — destroying it, taking out everything we can and dumping everything we don’t need. If the oceans die, we’re going to die because they provide everything we need.”

Liedtke said that aside from shoes, Adidas is working on eliminating plastics in all facets of its business.

“At our headquarters, we’ve eliminated all plastic: There’s no straws, no lids, no bottles. It’s all glass or reusables,” he said. “We eliminated plastic bags for shopping — that’s 70 million bags a year; we have no plastic bags in our stores. We’re committed to this cause.”

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