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adidas Reveals Plans to Close Materials Loops with Custom, Recyclable, Zero-Waste Sporting Goods

Image credit: adidas

Today, adidas announced Sport Infinity, the sportswear giant’s plan for a new breed of sporting goods that will never be thrown away. Instead, football (soccer) players will be able to constantly reimagine and recycle their dream products using an inexhaustible 3-D “super-material.” Every gram of sportswear, including the boots of Argentine soccer star Leo Messi, will be broken down to be remolded again in a waste-free, adhesive-free process that gives consumers more scope for personalization than ever before.

adidas will lead the cross-industry WRAP Consortium Sport Infinity research project, funded by the European Commission, which brings together a variety of industry and academic experts, and combines broken-down sports products with excess materials from other industries. So the soccer boots of the future could contain everything from carbon used in aircraft manufacturing to fibers from boots that scored during the World Cup.

Sport Infinity"I am proud that adidas is working to make sure that all of their boots, including mine, are being made in a way that protects the environment,” four-time FIFA Ballon d'Or winner Messi said. “For me, this is the future of football."

adidas says the new super-material will make every sports fan a product designer. A pair of boots can be restyled as often as the wearer wants without worrying about waste.

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Gerd Manz, VP of Technology Innovation at adidas, said: "This is a game-changing development for football fans. Over the next three years, Sport Infinity aims to end the days of throwing away football boots. Instead, every pair of boots is not just recycled but reimagined to the consumer's most personal specifications."

Glenn Bennett, Executive Board Member Global Operations at the adidas Group, added: "Following the announcement of SPEEDFACTORY and our partnership with Parley for the Oceans, Sport Infinity is the next step in our commitment to innovation and sustainability. This project will close the sustainability loop, creating a high-performance product that can always be recycled."

adidas and the European Commission kicked off the project in June 2015 together with nine other industry-leading experts: BASF SEKISKA GmbH; FILL Gesellschaft m.b.H.Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU); OECHSLER AGUniversity of Leeds' Centre for Technical Textiles (CTT); Association CETI (Centre Européen des Textiles Innovants); Hypercliq E.E.; and SportsMethod Ltd.

This is adidas’ latest in a number of creative approaches to eliminating materials waste:

  • In 2014, adidas announced initiatives to reduce materials waste during the design processadidas by Stella McCartney, for example, includes Low-Waste Tees and Shorts created through precise cutting techniques to ensure 95 percent of the fabric used makes it into the final products, with the remaining 5 percent recycled or repurposed; while changing the pattern for its Running line increased pattern efficiency to 96 percent — with the remaining 4 percent of the materials, such as inlay soles, textiles, finishings and rubber, recycled for use in other products.
  • In March, the company announced a partnership with Pharrell Williams’ Bionic Yarn, to incorporate fabric made from upcycled marine plastic into a new Originals line of shoes and apparel.
  • In June, the company unveiled the first fruits of its collaboration with Parley for the Oceans — a prototype for the world’s first shoe with an upper made entirely of yarns and filaments upcycled from ocean plastic waste and illegal deep-sea gillnets.

adidas also announced last week during Climate Week NYC a goal to become carbon neutral.

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