Fully Recyclable Sneakers: A Closed Loop Fashion System

When it comes to sustainable fashion brands, Adidas may not be the first name that comes to mind. We all probably have a pair of sneakers (or more) in our closet, but have you ever thought about what happens to your shoes at the end of their life? Most shoes end up in the landfill, sitting there to decompose for thousands of years while leaking chemicals and microplastics into our soil and waterways. Even if you wanted to upcycle your shoes – you probably can’t because of their glue filling and mixed material fabric.

 Adidas Fully Recycle Sneaker White

Image via HighSnobiety

Adidas aims to eliminate their shoes going to the landfill – and is designing a shoe that they want back when you’re done with it. They have announced their new performance shoe named the FUTURECRAFT.LOOP, made from only one material, recyclable TPU, and no glue. This material is then clean-fused to a midsole. When the shoes are sent back, Adidas is able to grind the material up, melt it and use 100% of it for a new pair of shoes.

Paul Gaudio, SVP Creative Direction & Future at Adidas states that “FUTURECRAFT seeks to break new ground bringing new materials and processes to bear against the many challenges and opportunities we face in helping athletes make a difference in their game, in their life and of course, in the world they live in – the world we all live in.”

 Willow Smith wearing White Adidas Sneakers

Image via TreeHugger

In 2019, Adidas tested “Gen 1” of the FUTURECRAFT.LOOP performance shoe. After long wear and durability tests, the Gen 1 shoes were sent back to Adidas and the production team began working on the “Gen 2” test of FUTURECRAFT.LOOP. In Gen 2, the outsole, eyelets, tongue label and inner support were remade from the recycled materials of the Gen 1. Dye is added using a “water-free dye technique”, but Adidas is not clear on their methods for color. Adidas aims for “1:1 recyclability and eliminating the intake of virgin plastic”.  The FUTURECRAFT is expected to launch to the general public Spring/Summer 2021.

In addition to Adidas’s bold innovation of recyclable sneakers, Stella McCartney is partnering up with Adidas to create a fully recyclable hoodie. Stella McCartney has been partnering with Adidas since 2005, and you can even visit an Adidas/Stella McCartney store. As of now, only a few hoodies have been made, but you can expect to see more recyclable clothing and accessories from both Stella McCartney and Adidas in the near future.

 Stella McCartney and Adidas Tan Hoodie

Image via Global Citizen

Would you wear recyclable running shoes? Tell us your thoughts about these recyclable innovations in the comments below!