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For adidas — a company that’s quietly shifted gears towards environmentally friendly manufacturing for decades — sustainability is the name of the game. A focus on sustainable materials is entrenched in its history — they were a founding member of the Better Cotton (BCI) and Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals initiatives and have already eliminated plastic bags from stores and cut single-use plastics from their corporate offices. This year, adidas recentered its focus on eliminating new or “virgin plastics” from its supply chain.

“Rooted in our core belief that through sport, we have the power to change lives, we recognize that we have an important role to play in leading the way around sustainability”, says Michael Rossi, President of adidas Canada. “We’re deeply committed to creating positive change in the world around us, and innovating to reduce and eliminate virgin plastics from our products is a critical step.” 

What’s the problem with virgin plastics?

adidas' Race to Save the Planet infographic

New or “virgin” plastic is a resource-intensive, waste-heavy product, and an estimated eight million metric tons of plastic waste is dumped into our oceans every year. Unfortunately, the rise of “fast fashion” brands — which produce inexpensive, lower-quality clothing designed to capitalize on trends — has exacerbated the waste problem.

Amid the wave of environmentally reckless fashion, adidas has held to its sustainability principles — and accelerated their implementation. In 2018, the company committed to using 100 percent recycled plastic by 2024 in every product and application where a solution exists, but this year, adidas expects to produce 11 million pairs of shoes containing recycled ocean plastic.

A legacy of innovative products is part of a multi-faceted approach to sustainability

In 2018, adidas produced more than five million pairs of shoes containing recycled ocean plastic — a line of products born out of adidas’ 2015 partnership with Parley for the Oceans, an environmental organization and collaboration network. Cotton is another key aspect of the company’s environmental stewardship efforts — as of 2018, all the cotton sourced by adidas meets sustainability requirements outlined by the BCI. 

adidas regularly receives major industry accolades for its manufacturing improvements and labour policies, but if the past twenty years are any indication, the company is not resting on its laurels. 

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