Adidas has announced a partnership with Parley for the Oceans, an organization that launches projects to help protect oceans from the major threats they face. During the press event at the United Nations in NYC on Monday, the brand unveiled a sample shoe of its acclaimed Ultra Boost made with materials that were illegally dumped into the ocean.
The white portion of the shoe’s upper is comprised of plastic recovered from ocean waste, with the green portion of the shoe made of recovered illegal gill netting.
The prototype was made in Germany in just six days.
The gill netting and plastic waste was found by the nonprofit marine-wildlife conservation organization Sea Shepherd, a partner of Parley, during a 110-day expedition tracking an illegal poaching vessel, ending off the coast of West Africa. The expedition resulted in the recovery of 72 km — nearly 45 miles — of gill netting.
Eric Liedtke, executive board member of Adidas Athletic Group, said the footwear industry hasn’t been active enough in helping to preserve and protect the planet’s oceans.
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“We need to be leaders in this field. We need to act now — and I think consumers understand this opportunity,” said Liedtke. “The scientists have been there, the filmmakers have been there, but where has this industry been? It’s been incremental steps instead of big, bold steps. We’ve partnered with Parlay to take big, bold steps.”
Liedtke added that the prototype revealed on Monday is just one version of a shoe using recovered ocean waste that the brand hopes to release in the first quarter of 2016.
Adidas has used recycled materials in the past, he noted, but solely for clothing.
“Apparel is easy. We want to do footwear because it’s hard,” Liedtke said. “We already do about 20 percent of our apparel in recycled polyester — that’s something we’re pretty good at.”
Liedtke added that Adidas has signed a five-year deal to help fund Parlay but did not disclose the terms.
“Adidas has long been a leader in sustainability, but this partnership allows us to tap into new areas and create innovative materials and products for our athletes,” said Liedtke, who is also a member of the steering committee of Parley for the Oceans. “We invite everyone to join us on this journey to clean up the oceans.”