Circular Fashion Economy

Image via Adidas
Written by: Hana El-Sharabasy

Adidas has just announced the release of their newest running shoe, the FutureCraft Loop. In their efforts to create a circular business model, Adidas has stated that this sneaker is ‘made to be remade’. The FutureCraft Loop is made from recycled material and designed to be sanitized and destroyed once it is no longer wearable, to recycle its materials and create another shoe. The entirety of the sneaker is made from thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), an extremely durable and forgiving material. The FutureCraft Loop is the first of many completely recyclable products offered by Adidas.

Image via Adidas

Polyester and Athleticwear

In the athleticwear industry, it is common practice that most garments are made of a man-made fibre called polyester. Polyester is created in factories by fusing long polymer threads which are then woven into fabrics. Polyester offers many benefits that are the reasons many companies opt to use it over other materials.

  • Durability
  • Ability to wick away sweat
  • Inexpensive
  • Wrinkle resistance
  • Stain resistance
The Bad

But there are big downsides that don’t seem to turn manufacturers away from using polyester. 

    • Improper safety regulations make it highly likely that wastewater from production will end up in waterways.
    • It takes lots of energy to produce, 125 megajoules of energy per kilogram of product. This is more than double what it takes to produce cotton, for example. 
    • Can take up to 200 years to break down.
Gif via FORT

Making Strides Towards Sustainability

Instead of using more sustainable materials and forfeiting all the good things polyester has to offer, Adidas has found a way to make polyester sustainable. As previously mentioned, the material can be very forgiving. Using this to their advantage, Adidas has implemented a system where the material can be reused at the end of its lifetime. This way, the poly fibres only have to be made once and can be reused multiple times over, allowing them to cut their carbon emissions exponentially. 

Adidas eco-innovation program leader Dharan Kirupanantham has explained that using renewable resources is a crucial step towards achieving a global circular economy where waste is eliminated and natural systems are returned. He believes a circular economy is not only good for business but also a critical aspect in restoring environmental health.

Gif via Milled

The Construction

Experimenting with new ways to make the shoe, Adidas was looking for a way to glue together the many components of the shoe while maintaining a uniform material. They found that the recycled plastic material can be fused using heat and pressure, creating a stronger bond than any of their other products. This advantage could mean that the FutureCraft Loop is their most durable shoe yet. The Futurecraft Loop uses Adidas’ signature boost sole that has been adapted to fit their sustainability standards. Extra support is added to the parts of the shoe that face more wear, such as the heel and toe. Adidas is only set to release this shoe in white to exclude the environmentally taxing dying process.  

Although, it is unlikely that this sneaker will be able to maintain its pearly white colour, especially after being repeatedly recycled. The poly material the shoes will be made of, tends to yellow over time. To prevent this, Adidas has hinted at the possibility of colourways as a way to age the shoe gracefully through recycling. This could mean unique and exclusive colourways that are a result of mixing different remnants.

How will they get them back?

Adidas has not released any specific information on how they plan to organize their buy/return system. They are considering something comparable to a subscription service, where you pay a monthly fee, or even return a portion of your money when you recycle your shoe. Either way, they expect to have an incentive for returning your shoes to ensure they can continue their circular business model rather than having the sneakers end up in landfills.

What’s next for the FutureCraft Loop?

Their new innovative manufacturing techniques that allow none of their shoes to end up in landfills, is a game-changer for athletic wear. The choice used to be between sustainable materials and manmade materials like polyester, with the latter being the economical choice. However, Adidas has since paved the way for a third option – to make polyester and other manmade fibres sustainable. Adidas hopes to utilize these new techniques in their other products beyond shoes. 

ÀLA.HAUSSE is ready to see other sportswear brands follow Adidas’ lead and create fully recyclable garments.


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