Last year, Adidas unveiled a prototype 3D-printed sneaker made from recycled plastic ocean waste. The design was a collaboration with Parley for the Oceans, an organization that raises awareness about the environmental destruction of the oceans. Now, Adidas and Parley have launched a competition to give 50 fans the chance to win a pair of the limited edition shoes. The design of the sneakers, says Adidas, the sole doesn't appear to be 3D-printed any more, and while the original prototypes were too stiff to run in, the new shoes are supposed to be as functional as any other sold by the company.
the recycled fishing nets had to be washed in a laundromat
The sneakers' uppers are made entirely from recycled ocean waste, including PET from discarded plastic bottles and nylon recovered from old fishing nets. In a blog post, Parley's Kelli George describes how the gillnets, designed to hang vertically in the water and snare passing animals, arrived clogged with debris and stinking of fish. They had to be detangled and washed in a local laundromat before they could be spun into the teal nylon yarn used in the finished sneaker.
Turning plastic into a usable material in this way is a laborious process, but Parley for the Oceans' founder, Cyrill Gutsch, says that now it's been done once, it'll be easier to repeat. "We are creating new standards, new materials and technologies that are so different to those the sporting goods industry is used to," said Gutsch in a press statement. "It is an ongoing challenge, but we achieved the first step. Now we can replace new plastic with recycled marine plastic debris."
"These materials will now be phased [into] key adidas product categories"
At the moment, the project is more about raising awareness than creating any tangible environmental benefits, but there are plans to scale up the amount of recycled ocean material used in Adidas products. The company says that in the second half of 2016 one of its "top footwear franchises" will incorporate the same recycled ocean waste into its commercial lineup. "These materials will now be phased step by step into key Adidas product categories to reduce the production of new, virgin plastic," says the company.
In the meantime, if you want to win one of the prototype sneakers, you'll have to produce an Instagram video showing how you plan to "avoid single use plastic items and support Parley's Ocean Plastic Program." It's not clear exactly how to enter the competition, but look out for more details on Adidas' social media pages.