Recyclable running shoes? Adidas thinks they have the design.

Adidas Futurecraft.Loop. Credit: Sneaker Files

The footwear industry has been trying to develop high performance running shoes that are recyclable – where the material from an old or worn pair of shoes can all be recycled and used to make a new pair. Adidas says it has done that, in its Futurecraft.Loop shoes! These shoes are built out of a single material with no glue or solvent used. Why is that a big deal? Performance running shoes need to be light, strong and flexible. They also need to provide the right cushioning. They are usually made with a mix of materials. This mix makes recycling the materials difficult.

Adidas has overcome this by designing a material called thermoplastic urethane (TPU). They say that every part of the shoe can be made from this material.

How does this work? Once these shoes come to the end of their first life you can return them to the company. They are then washed, ground to pellets and melted into material for a new pair of shoes.

Sounds great! What’s the catch? Well, the whole shoe can be recycled, but it will only contribute to 10% of the material used in the new pair of shoes.

When can we see them in the stores? Adidas is planning to launch them in 2021. These can go a ways towards reducing the plastic waste burden on Earth.

Are there other recyclable or eco-friendly shoes that we can buy? Yes! Reebok has some that they have made out of corn and cotton, and a company called Vivobarefoot and another called Bloom collaborated to make shoes made out of algae. There are other initiatives like this. None of these are running shoes though, and that is what Adidas is working so hard on.

Adapted from: Time magazine, Quartz, gearjunkie.

Adapted by: Sunaina Murthy


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