TULERIE

If Stan Smiths were recycled into new Stan Smiths, would they be cool again?

Companies Doing GoodViolet Gross
adidas recycles plastic.jpeg

Let's talk about Adidas.  No, it's not about Stan Smiths.  Trust us, we know you stopped wearing yours when your dad bought himself a pair.  But before we get to Adidas, let's talk about plastic because it's like so on trend right now. 

On a global basis, the reuse rate of plastic is close to non-existent.  Only 14% of plastic is collected for recycling, while roughly 60% of paper and almost 90% of iron and steel is recycled.  WTF plastic!  Now compare that to the fact that global use of plastic has increased 20-fold over the past 50 years and is expected to double again in the next 20 years.  Major issue.

This is why brands like Starbucks pledged to eliminate plastic straws and why Adidas announced last month they will eliminate the use of "virgin" plastic.  What does that mean? Virgin plastic is exactly what it sounds like - brand new plastic.  But why would we make brand new plastic instead of reusing all the plastic sitting in recycling bins?  Profit motives.  Surprisingly, making new plastic can be cheaper than using recycled plastic since the recycling process is labor-intensive (eh emm that's why it's important to make sure you're separating recycling from waste).

Another point on why manufacturers prefer new plastics over recycled is because the composition of new plastic is easier to identify.  However, the great Bill Nye makes a genius but overlooked point that "the less we waste, the more we have".  We can't rely on new resources forever.  Plastic is made from petroleum, so while oil prices may drop making virgin plastics more appealing, we all learned 'nothing gold can stay'.  Plus, I am sure we can all agree there are better uses for petroleum than that plastic water bottle you bought from Soul Cycle. 

Adidas' move to eliminate virgin plastics will save an estimated 40 tons of plastic per year.  And they've already hit the ground running.  Last year, Adidas sold $1 million worth of shoes made out of plastic that was found in the ocean, boasting that each pair of their Ultra Boost sneakers is made out of 11 plastic water bottles.  Taking this mission a step further, the company said its apparel line for the spring/summer 2019 season will contain around 41% recycled polyester.  Points for Adidas since polyester is cheap, lightweight and ideal for athletic performance but the production process drops bombs of harmful chemicals and carcinogens.  We don't need any more of those either. 

Adidas is able to make these changes thanks to a company they coupled up with called Parley for the Oceans.  Parley's strategy focuses on air...well A.I.R. Avoid, Intercept, Redesign.

Avoid insignificant unnecessary plastics (think plastic bags and single-use plastics, i.e. straws). 

Intercept - find opportunities (like the Adidas partnership) to stop plastic before it enters the ocean.

Redesign - find new ways to use recycled plastics.

Parley states "if we fail to clean up the plastic and stop the continued pollution of the oceans, we are facing the potential extinction of many sea life species and the interruption of the entire ecosystem.  We also risk the health of anyone who eats seafood". A mighty heavy trade-off if you ask us.

Now the real question is, will Adidas go by way of Re/Done and use the 40 million pairs of Stan Smiths they're already sold to create new Stan Smiths?  We hope so.  A collab between these two companies may just bring those sneaks back in the spotlight.