Adidas takes a solid step toward sustainability with a new embrace of recycled plastic.
The plan will save 40 tons of plastic each year.
Adidas is rolling out a bit of welcome news to people who love sports and care about the environment.
On July 15, Financial Times reported the sports apparel company plans to phase out use of "virgin" plastics (first-use plastic that hasn't been recycled), switching over exclusively to recycled plastics by 2024. This pledge includes the company's products as well as its offices, stores, warehouses, and other facilities. A CNN report puts the amount of plastic saved at 40 tons per year.
Over the past couple of decades, Adidas has made a number of other adjustments to its product lines in the name of sustainability. Its website notes that with a few small exceptions, the company stopped using polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in its products in favor of more sustainable and low-impact plastics in the years since.
Adidas displays Germany's World Cup jersey in June 2018. Photo by Hans-Martin Issler/Getty Images for Adidas.
Adidas isn't alone, either. A bunch of other companies are making moves to a more sustainable future.
At this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, 11 global brands pledged to move towards 100% recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging. Amcor, Ecover, Evian, L'Oréal, Mars, M&S, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Walmart, and Werner & Mertz all signed on to make the shift by 2025. Ultimately, if there's hope to reassess how much plastic we use and how we use it, it'll take consumer pressure on brands to embrace sustainable technologies.
Individual decisions are good — such as choosing not to use plastic cutlery, not using single-use straws unless you have to, and opting for reusable bags at the grocery store — but it's brands that can make the big changes. Putting pressure on brands to find newer, more sustainable options can also have the effect of fueling innovation and technological advances.
Plastic use is a real problem in need of a real solution.
A report from earlier this year pegged the size of the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" at three times the size of France, spanning 617,800 square miles and made up of 79,000 tons of plastic. It's gross, it's sad, and it's absolutely avoidable. Globally, 8 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean each year.
NOAA divers cut a Hawaiian green sea turtle free from a derelict fishing net during a recent mission to collect marine debris in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Photo by the NOAA Photo Library/Flickr.
According to the most recent data out of the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States places more than 25 million tons of plastic in landfills and burns nearly 5 million tons, but recycles just 3.1 million tons each year. The trend isn't looking so good, either. National Geographic found that 91% of the world's plastic isn't being recycled, and if we keep on the pace we're at, there will be 12 billion tons of plastic in landfills globally by 2050.
We deserve a world free from trash. More companies should follow the lead of Adidas and others.