Adidas Announces Soccer Cleat Recycling Program

Adidas Sport Infinity Cleats
Adidas Sport Infinity cleats.
Courtesy of brand.

“Farewell to recycling — it is now time for infinity-cycling,” is how Adidas is advertising its newest eco project.

The Herzogenaurach, Germany-based firm has introduced a program called Sport Infinity, which is said to create “a new breed of sporting goods that will never be thrown away … an innovation that could turn Messi’s boots into yours,” according to the company.

The way it works is that every bit of Adidas sportswear, including the cleats of Fifa Ballon d’Or winner and Adidas ambassador Lionel Messi, would be broken down and remolded into an inexhaustible, 3D-shapeable material that give customers the opportunity to infinitely reimagine and personalize products, without using any glue or other adhesives and without producing any waste.

“This is a game-changing development,” said Gerd Manz, vice president of technology and innovation at Adidas.

“Over the next three years, Sport Infinity aims to end the days of throwing away football boots. Instead, every pair of boots is not just recycled but reimagined to the consumer’s most personal specifications,” he said.

Turning fans into product designers is part of a broader strategy pursued by Adidas, which hopes to move closer to its customer base and gain back the market share it is losing vis-à-vis its oversees competitors.

The Sport Infinity products will not be available before the three-year development phase is over, though the company judges its potential for commercialization as substantial.

Sport Infinity is a research project helmed by Adidas and funded by the European Commission.

It spans various industries, allowing the broken-down sporting goods to be combined with excess materials from other sectors, “so that a pair of football boots of the future could contain anything from carbon used in aircraft manufacturing to fibers of the boots that scored during the World Cup,” Adidas said, noting how almost 30 percent of all material used in sportswear production is wasted, most ending up in landfills.

Glenn Bennett, executive board member of global operations at the Adidas group, noted that the project would essentially “close a sustainability loop, creating a high-performance product that can always be recycled.”

“Following the announcement of Speedfactory and our partnership with Parley for the Oceans, Sport Infinity is the next step in our commitment to innovation and sustainability,” he said.

Added Messi: “Working to make sure that all of [Adidas’] boots, including mine, are being made in a way that protects the environment — for me, is the future of football.”