Adidas Turns Ocean Pollution Into Cool New Sneakers

Adidas has come a long way in their process to remove harmful chemicals in products. Not only do they have a plan to remove all PFCs by 2020, but they have invented a new shoe that is made of plastics and used fishnets polluting the oceans.


May 26 2019, Updated 2:54 p.m. ET

Adidas ocean plastic shoe FI

Three years ago, Adidas was hit with a scandal on their 2014 FIFA World Cup equipment. Products contained toxins that could affect the environment and our health. It was a serious blow a company that committed to get rid of any hazardous material back in 2011. Not only are they on a better path now, but they’ve even found a way create shoes from unique recycled material.

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Greenpeace Germany conducted an investigation on athletic material leading up to the prestigious soccer championships held every four years. They determined that Adidas was one of the companies, along with Nike and Puma, that had high toxin levels in their products. The “Predator” soccer boots were tagged with some of the highest perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs, found. It was even well above Adidas’ restricted standards.

Specifically, the perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, that was found in the footwear can be extremely dangerous to the environment. Any ingestion of this product, which can happen if it gets in our food through environmental pollution, can damage reproductive organs and cause cancer. Other chemicals found in these products can affect aquatic life or even can cause skin issues when in direct contact.

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Working with the company that investigated them, Adidas planned for a better effort in getting rid of these toxins. All PFCs would eventually be phased out by 2020. It was a welcome change of pace after many fans sent messages to the apparel company to “detox” their products.

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Adidas has since taken things a step further. They revealed a new line of shoes that would be completely made from recycled ocean trash. Paired up with another team, Parley for the Oceans, the new footwear would contain plastics and green fishnet fibers that were otherwise polluting the waters. There’s increased awareness of how bad the conditions are in the oceans surround us, like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

A report from Sanctosis explains more on the fishnets. Along with another organization called The Sea Shepherd Conversation Society, this team “spent over a hundred days tracking illegal poachers in African coast and recovered nearly 45 miles of fishing net.” An added benefit of having Adidas along for the ride is an uptick in technology to better recover the trash.

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There’s currently 11 products available under the “Parley” umbrella. The standard “Ultraboost” shoes featured two styles for men and one for women. All three retailed for $200. The “Terrex Climacool” shoes, which are geared more for exclusive outdoor use, are $60 less. Other products include flip-flops, shorts, and shirts -- including Real Madrid jerseys for the dedicated soccer hooligan.

The apparel company put up the “A.I.R.” strategy on their website: avoid, intercept, and redesign. These shoes wouldn’t include anything unnecessary such as plastic bags in the packaging. The recovery process of excess plastic was happening prior to it even reaching the ocean. Lastly, the company would take these plastics and recreate them into the shoe. It’s been a tremendous accomplishment on how far Adidas has gone to push sustainability in the sports apparel industry.


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