Fully recyclable sports shoes

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Adidas ‘Loop’ running shoes
By Jerry Brownstein
The giant sporting goods company Adidas is taking a leading role in the global effort to lessen the plague of plastic waste. Their latest project is the Futurecraft Loop performance running shoe. When these shoes are worn out they can be returned to the company, where they will be completely recycled to make new shoes. Adidas is no stranger to sustainability innovations. In 2015 they partnered with ‘Parley for the Oceans’ to create running shoes whose uppers were made entirely from marine plastic waste. In 2018 they produced 11 million pairs of those shoes using plastic collected on beaches, remote islands and coastal communities.

The Futurecraft Loop shoes take this to another level. Eric Liedtke, head of global brands at Adidas explains their goal this way: “What happens to your shoes after you’ve worn them out? You throw them away... except there is no “away”. There are only landfills, incinerators and oceans filled with plastic waste. The next step is to end the concept of waste entirely.” Creating high quality performance shoes that can be fully recycled was deemed impossible in the past, because running shoes were made of different materials which needed to be separated prior to recycling. Adidas solved this problem by making this shoe with one single material: 100% reusable thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU).

Once the user is done with the shoes they are returned to Adidas where they are washed, ground into pellets and melted into material for a new pair of shoes... with zero waste and nothing thrown away. “Futurecraft Loop is our first running shoe that is made to be remade," said Liedtke. "It is a statement of our intent to take responsibility for the entire life of our product." The company says that the target for sale of this shoe to the general public is Spring/Summer 2021, and they are aiming to use TPU in all of their products by 2024.


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