OUR JOURNEY TOWARDS CIRCULARITY: FALL WINTER 2021 UPDATE

2050 is the year that at adidas we plan to achieve climate neutrality. This is also the year our oceans are expected to contain more plastic than fish – that is, if we don’t act now. Our solution to help end plastic waste and achieve climate neutrality? Sustainable innovation.

Being in the sports world for over 70 years has taught adidas many valuable lessons; lessons on winning, losing and adapting to the needs of athletes and the world. The current state of the world might initially make many of us feel defeated and question the impact we can have. Climate change, pollution, plastic waste, water contamination… you name it, it’s happening to our planet. But our mindset of stepping up against all odds and finding new ways to win together is what drives us as a business to be a better corporate citizen.

But while we have raised the bar for environmental standards at our own sites, in our supply chain and for our products, the change is bigger than us. Innovating and creating products that help preserve the planet for future generations is no longer a niche for specialty brands, and it is becoming an expected standard for the way every company goes about its business. As a large company, we have a big impact in all the actions we take. Therefore, we are speaking up and taking action, not only to help our consumers understand why they should care, but our industry as well.

MADE TO BE DONE AGAIN – THE TRIP TO DAY

Last year, we announced the Three Loop Strategy – our roadmap to help end plastic waste. At the heart of it is Circular Loop – Made To Be Remade.

The concept of Made To Be Remade (MTBR) is simple: when one piece of plastic has served its purpose, it must be remade to fulfill another. Our attitude is that the end of one thing equals the start of the next, and that the life of our products can be extended by turning them into new products.

Our circular loop creation process has come a long way since we introduced FUTURECRAFT.LOOP – our first running shoe designed to be remade – in 2019. From what started as a beta of just 200 pairs has grown into a concept within the company spanning across multiple categories and in April this year saw the first commercial launch – Ultraboost Made To Be Remade.

David Quass, Director of Sustainability Innovation at adidas describes the Made To Be Remade process; “During manufacture we carefully define how the products are to be designed and created so that they can be remade. The process must be transparent and repeatable. Only then can our learning be adapted. For example, in our garments, we have designed products that, when returned, can be redeveloped into a whole new yarn and reused to knit the next garment. We are exploring chemical and mechanical recycling technologies that can be applied depending on the material of the products, be it recycled polyester, cotton, reclaimed cellulose or TPU.

TPU in particular is an amazing material that we have been using for quite some time because of its versatility. We use it for some of our more well-known innovations, like Boost, because of its flexibility, durability and performance. You can melt it, reform it, and create a wide range of components with the same base material. We are also the first manufacturer to embed TPU in a wire, which has opened up a whole new dimension of creative possibilities.

But while the material is an essential element in the making of Made To Be Remade products, the design is just as important.

Take, for example, Ultraboost Made To Be Remade, which will be commercially available for the first time in November of this year (2021). What is particularly exciting about this product is that the shoe will be created in part from the previous generation. Featuring a torsion bar containing 25% reused content from the Futurecraft Loop Gen 2, the Made To Be Remade Ultraboost demonstrates in practice that the end of one product can be the start of the next.

Stan Smith made to be remade FW21

Even before November, FW21 will see another adidas icon join the MTBR family – Stan Smith Made To Be Remade. Much like the Ultraboost model, the Stan Smith MTBR was created entirely from TPU – from the laces to the midsole and everything in between. Limited pairs are available from 16e October to adidas Creators Club members, this is the first commercial MTBR footwear product that is not focused on performance, offering more choice to conscious consumers looking for alternatives to some of adidas’ most iconic silhouettes. .

Free hiker made to be remade FW21

Beyond the track and the streets, some of adidas’ most beloved outdoor products also receive the MTBR treatment. Alongside Stan Smith MTBR, October will host the TERREX Free Hiker Made To Be Remade, featuring a knitted TPU upper and TPU outsole, making it the first TERREX hiking shoe to use the technology. The shoe will be accompanied by the launch of the TERREX Made To Be Remade anorak – our second-generation prototype following the FW20 FUTURECRAFT.LOOP anorak, which will be commercially available in 2022.

With new innovations like these on the horizon, Phillip Waller, SVP Strategy and Innovation at adidas was talking what to expect later: “Then we’ll take it even further by exploring concepts such as multi-material disassembly and reuse. The challenges are endless, but our determination is relentless. We manufacture, invent and optimize the performance of our Made To Be Remade products to define what is possible. We must do our best. But the future will not be satisfied with less. The creation of the loop process ensures no loss of performance between generations. The product will be worn out, worn out and returned to us: each pair brings us closer to a more sustainable future to help end plastic waste.

DEVELOP THE CIRCULAR EXPERIENCE

With LOOP Gen 1, we were working at a scale where we could have conversations with beta testers, but now where we’re creating tens of thousands of products, the production scale demanded a more efficient and self-sustaining process.

First of all, each MTBR product is associated with a QR code. The QR code is the gateway to the digital experience that was created specifically for these products, educating and engaging consumers while also being the start of the feedback function. The returns function is also digitally driven – return labels can be generated and then all you need to do is drop them off at the nearest post office.

Every MTBR product that is released in the market comes with the promise that it can be returned. But as a brand, we don’t want to just stop at our own MTBR products. As an evolution of our Infinite game Take-back pilot launched in 2019 in the UK, we are officially launching a larger program – starting in the US – that will allow consumers to give back all adidas products at the end of their life. We will even reward consumers who make the effort to return products to us.

A CIRCULAR FUTURE

What we’re most excited about right now is seeing how MTBR is evolving. How we are extending it to all franchises and how it is becoming more and more accessible. We take the organization out of its comfort zone and engage consumers to a new level where we ask them to change their behavior because of the way we create. Essentially, the MTBR is proof of how we move from a linear model to exploring circular business models.

Our belief is that circularity will become the new normal in the long run. By 2030 (when we committed to reducing our carbon footprint by 30% compared to 2017), this will become the basic expectation of consumers. Similar to how recycled materials have evolved over time over the past 5 years, the same will happen with products that can be returned and made into something else.

“For a company like ours, whose main expertise is performance products, the circular economy offers new possibilities. It puts the organization outside its comfort zone. What we do is create and sell products, and that’s what we do best. This is about changing the business model and promoting a different way of consuming for consumers, allowing them to engage with products in fresh and new ways. It starts with how we design products and moves on to how we allow consumers to access those products and eventually return them to us so that resources are conserved and reused. It is about inviting consumers to change their behavior. – Phillip Waller, SVP Strategy and Innovation at adidas

We recognize that we are all part of the problem – which makes us even more creative and determined, because with innovation, we have the means to help put an end to plastic waste and ultimately achieve our ambition to become a fully circular company.

About Shirley Dickson

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