Adidas has announced a three-year research effort to develop soccer cleats that can repeatedly be recycled without using glue or other adhesives and without creating waste.
The Germany-based firm calls the program Sport Infinity, which it says will create “a new breed of sporting goods that will never be thrown away … an innovation that could turn Messi’s boots into yours.”
The move comes amid growing concerns over the environmental impact of sportswear production, which often uses chemicals and consumes considerable water resources. Adidas, the world’s second-largest sporting goods company behind Nike, notes that 30% of all material used in sportswear is wasted, most ending up in landfills.
Sport Infinity, operated by Adidas and funded by the European Commission, would assemble experts from industries as varied as chemical giant BASF SE, Austrian design and brand consultancy firm Kiska GmbH, and several international universities and textile connoisseurs. The consortium of experts will endeavor to develop a “new breed of fully recyclable” sporting goods materials that can be “used for performance sports gear, and later be broken down and remolded repeatedly,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
"In a world of limited resources, recyclable materials is something we as an industry need to be leading in," Gerd Manz, technology and innovation vice president at Adidas and head of the new project, told WSJ.
More specifically, the process would allow materials to be remolded into an inexhaustible, 3D-shapeable material that allows consumers to reimagine and “mold their dream product” without the use of adhesives, says the company. As their own product designer, customers would turn in their old products to be recycled into new ones, anything from soccer cleats to soccer balls to performance sportswear. Consumers would be able to decide the colors and functionality of their product as they “co-create with Adidas to keep up with the latest trends.”
“This is a game-changing development,” said Manz. “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.”
As noted by WSJ, Adidas will join Microsoft Corp., Sony Corp. and several other companies in a United Nations initiative to combat climate change, “by agreeing to measure its climate footprint and reduce emissions where possible. In April, Adidas announced a partnership with awareness-raising network Parley for the Oceans, through which it aims to make sportswear out of recycled ocean waste.”