Shoes as a solution to ocean plastic

Shoes as a solution to ocean plastic

German sportswear giant Adidas has set itself the goal of producing 1 million pairs of UltraBOOST Uncaged sports shoes by the end of 2017. It might not sound unusual that Adidas is producing large numbers of sports shoes, but these shoes are different – they are made from plastic recovered from the oceans.

The shoes are the product of a partnership between Adidas and Parley for the Oceans, an initiative to clean up plastic from the sea and to develop more environmentally friendly alternatives. Parley works according to the AIR strategy – Avoid plastic waste wherever possible, Intercept plastic waste and Redesign the plastic economy. Parley considers that plastic is a “design failure” and that ultimately, only new materials can solve the problems created by plastic.

Recovered plastic into fibres

In the meantime, however, the Parley Ocean Plastic Programme is organising retrieval of synthetic material from the seas and reprocessing it into yarns and fibres. A number of small-scale uses have been made of the material, such as the production of football shirts for Bayern Munich. However, the production of sport shoes with Adidas marks the use of recycled ocean plastic at industrial scale.

The uppers of the UltraBOOST Uncaged sports shoes are made from 95% Parley Ocean Plastic and 5% recycled polyester. Laces, heel caps and liners are also made from materials recovered from the seas. The shoes are priced at about $200 (about €185).

Parley was founded by designer Cyrill Gutsch. He said that it was time to move from awareness-raising about combating ocean plastic to “taking action and implementing strategies that can end the cycle of plastic pollution for good. Eco-innovation is an open playing field.”

Plastic in the oceans is a pressing global problem with a heavy impact on wildlife, and ultimately through the food chain, on anyone who eats seafood. Recent explorations of the seabed around Malta, for example, carried out as part of the European Union-funded LIFE ‘BaĦAR for N2K’ project found a high amount of litter, including discarded fishing gear, cables, metal objects and glass, as well as plastic. Scientists from the Department of Biology of the University of Malta, working as part of the LIFE BaĦAR for N2K project, said the amount of seabed litter they found “came as a surprise.”

Further information:

Parley for the Oceans: http://www.parley.tv

LIFE BaĦAR for N2K project on seabed litter: http://lifebahar.org.mt/littering-problem-discovered-deep-sea-around-maltese-islands/