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Environmental Upgrades - Sports brands introduce environmental technology upgrades as a general trend
12 July 2019

China Business Daily / China Business Network (Reporter Yu Yuxing) At present, with the increasing awareness of consumers' environmental protection, more and more environmentally friendly products have entered the market. In the field of sporting goods, sports brand giants have begun to introduce recyclable materials. Experts believe that the technological upgrading of green materials is the trend of the times. Some enterprises must not only meet the needs of consumers, but also guide consumers to green consumption and assume more social responsibilities.

Adidas becomes a pioneer

Adidas introduced the brand's first reusable running shoes at its press conference in New York. The performance shoe, called Futurecraft.Loop, is made of 100% reusable thermoplastic polyurethane. Adidas' Speedfactory technology spins the material into yarn and weaves it without the need for glue.

It is understood that after the shoe is scrapped, it can be recycled and re-processed through cleaning, crushing, melting and other processes. Since 100% material is recyclable, this running shoe can be recycled without loss of performance and material waste, and the original shoe material can be completely used to make a new pair of shoes.

However, it is worth noting that the first generation of Futurecraft.Loop is still in the testing stage, and only 200 pairs will be launched. At the above-mentioned New York conference, Adidas will give 200 experience visitors around the world, invite them to participate in the test, and finally the shoes will be held then recycled and upcycled.

The company expects that the official release date of this pair of environmentally friendly shoes will be in the spring and summer of 2021, when Adidas will launch a wide range of environmentally friendly products. It is also known that the price of this running shoe will be close to the price of other running shoes of the brand.

Adidas Technology Innovation  Manager, Tanyaradzwa Sahanga, said when talking about renewable technologies, “This is a long-term vision in terms of technology and consumer behavior. Sometimes, we seem to be unable to overcome some technical obstacles, but we have already taken the first step. The industry will change from then on.” Adidas said that the company plans to apply renewable materials and technology to all footwear production processes by 2024.

Review Adidas' "environmental history." In fact, as early as 2015, Adidas began to release environmentally-friendly shoes, which is the “first mover” in the industry. At that time, the brand design team launched a sneaker made of marine plastic waste and illegal deep sea gill nets to raise awareness of marine pollution.

A year later, Adidas teamed up with marine environmental agency Parley for the Oceans to officially produce marine litter sports shoes. The two companies combined the concept of 3D printing and marine waste recycling to produce a running shoe made of recycled polyester fiber and illegal deep sea gill net for 3D printing materials.

 Adidas named it Ocean Plastic. It is reported that the upper material of this environmentally-friendly concept shoe is made entirely of plastic waste recycled from the sea around the Maldives, including 5% recycled polyester and 95% waste plastic. Each pair of sneakers consumes an average of 11 plastic bottles, including laces, insoles, heels and tongues.

The shoe was officially released and was popular in the market. Adidas CEO Caspar Rose has revealed that in 2017, the brand sold more than 1 million pairs of environmentally friendly sneakers made from marine plastic waste.

Back in March this year, Adidas Asia Pacific headquarters was unveiled in Shanghai, Adidas CEO Caspar Rosed mentioned the results of this shoe: the environmentally friendly shoes with Parley sold more than 5 million pairs in 2018, compared to 2017 Five times this year, sales are expected to increase to 11 million pairs.

The sports industry has created an "environmental wind"

In addition to Adidas, other sports brand giants have also begun to pay attention to environmental sports products. The sports brand Hummer recently issued a statement re-emphasizing its sustainability goals: it plans to use 90% of sustainable materials in 2020. According to Stefan Seidel, director of sustainability, Hummer has been approaching suppliers to find the best solution.
There is also the New Zealand sports shoe brand Allbirds. Allbirds was founded in 2014 by Joey Zwillinger and former New Zealand football team international Tim Brown. It is positioned as an innovative fashion brand that uses natural and environmentally friendly materials to make products.

Its star product wool sneakers use New Zealand Merino wool, which is not only very comfortable on the feet, but also can be directly put into the washing machine for cleaning. After launching the first wool sneakers in March 2016, Allbirds quickly gained the favor of Silicon Valley technology bulls and venture capitalists because of its comfort, environmental friendliness and convenience.
As the business evolved, Allbirds successfully developed two new materials in 2018: the lightweight fabric "Tree" based on eucalyptus fibers, and the carbon-deficient EVA sole material "SweetFoamTM" extracted from sugar cane.
TimBrown said that now they want this EVA material to become the mainstream material, and it is not enough for only Allbirds to use this material. So after the results of the research and development, Allbirds announced that it will share this technology with other companies to jointly promote the industry's environmental development.

Joey Zwillinger said that sharing the research and development results will not only promote the sustainable development of the entire footwear industry, but also become a mainstream material, the cost of Allbirds products will be reduced accordingly. As the scale of production expands, the company will be able to better promote environmental protection concepts and reduce the environmental impact of commodity production. At the time of the initial handover to the factory, the factory staff thought that their proposal was unreasonable. But now Allbirds has become a channel for other people to promote environmentally friendly materials, which is the most exciting thing after the brand was founded.

According to the "China's New Generation Fashion Consumer White Paper 2018" ("White Paper") released by the digital business media "Glory", consumers who believe that corporate social responsibility will affect individual purchases account for 80.4% of the total number of respondents. As the world's major luxury goods and fashion brands pay more and more attention to their corporate image and continue to strengthen their initiatives and dissemination in environmental protection, the sensitivity of young Chinese consumers to sustainable development is also increasing. They have a better economic base and environmental protection than older consumers, and when faced with a vastly rich selection of goods, young consumers will be willing to choose brands that are more socially responsible.

Pascal Martin, a partner at strategic consulting firm OC&C Strategy Consultants, said consumer demand for sustainable and natural ingredients will rise over time, and older, more environmentally conscious young people will become the main driving force behind this trend.

Finally, the expert's point of view is similar to the white paper. Experts from the China Culture, Education and Sporting Goods Association told reporters that “consumers’ awareness of environmental protection is increasing and demand is also upgrading. Recycling and upcycling, and green technology upgrades are the trend of the times. Some companies not only have to meet the needs of consumers, but also guide consumers to green consumption and take on more social responsibilities. In addition, he believes that these world-renowned companies have a huge brand appeal and a global business impact, which will create more sustainable development of recycled materials.