Recyclable from soles to laces!
Do you know what raw material is made of recycled polyester? It is plastic bottles, common as recyclable materials. It is said that approximately 10 plastic bottles can provide the fibers required for one set of work suits. Advances in recycling technology have made it possible to produce recycled polyester fibers equivalent to those made from petroleum.
Adidas, a sports brand, has announced that it will use more than 50% recycled polyester comes from recycled plastic waste in its products in 2020 and committed to using only recycled polyester four years later, in 2024. Adidas is a brand that is supported worldwide across generations and genders. As such an influential brand launched the active use of recycled materials, it is expected that the concept of environmental conservation will be spread more than now.
Actually, the company is working on other projects to promote sustainability, one of which is running shoe “Futurecraft Loop.” This shoe is made from a single recyclable material from sole to laces. It is a revolutionary product that allows users to recycle their worn-out shoes to make the same product again, and the material is thermoplastic polyurethane called TPU.
Upper, insoles, outsoles, and even laces are made from the TPU. TPU is a kind of plastic called urethane rubber or urethane resin, which is a soft material like rubber. It has the property to become soft when heated to a certain temperature or more, that it can be easily processed into various shapes, and to get hard when cooled.
On the Adidas website, how the shoes are transformed is explained with photos. The process that the shoes are thrown whole into the shredder and ground down into smaller pieces is amazing. There is no waste at this phase, and used shoes are transformed into raw materials and 100% recycled. The pulverized shoes are then dissolved and processed into granules for forming into parts. However, it is not possible to make a new pair of shoes solely from the raw materials obtained by dissolving one pair of shoes. Combining them with other parts using the new TPU makes it possible to complete a pair of shoes again.
The general sale of Futurecraft Loop is scheduled for 2021. A test run of the shoes was conducted in 2019, and beta testers have already received a new pair of shoes ― once have been recycled and transformed into second-generation. These efforts by Adidas tell us that technology development and ideas greatly contribute to the realization of a sustainable society. It may be an example to indicate that a sustainable society is not about returning to the old life, but about creating a more sophisticated society through technology.