Adidas trainers made from plastic recycled from the ocean
It has been widely reported that our oceans are becoming more polluted with plastic waste.
This discarded plastic causes the deaths and injuries of hundreds of thousands of marine animals each year. Animals become entangled in old beer can holders or plastic bags and smaller pieces of plastic are eaten by marine life who can't differentiate it from their natural food supply.
It's not only the solid waste that causes harm to marine life; plastic pollution does further damage as it degrades in the ocean releasing toxic chemicals causing contamination to the water.
There are many initiatives to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in our oceans. More and more people are conscious of the benefits of recycling. Larger stores charge customers for plastic bags to encourage people to bring their own instead of getting a new one each time and then throwing it away.
Other methods include finding alternative materials to plastic such as The Saltwater Brewery in Florida who produce beer can holders that are not only made from recycled products from their own brewing process but are also edible, and non toxic, for marine life.
While this is all well and good it does not tackle the problem of what to do with the plastic that is already in our oceans causing harm. Several companies have decided to tackle the problem and are now using plastic recovered from the ocean in their manufacturing process.
Adidas Trainers and Swimwear
In 2016 Adidas developed a line of trainers that uses plastic recovered from the ocean. 95% of the plastic used to manufacture the shoes was recovered from the ocean. Plastic is recovered from beaches in the Maldives and converted into a substance called "Econyl" which has the same properties as Nylon.
In 2017 Adidas intends to manufacture 1 million pairs of the 'UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley' trainers from over 11 million plastic bottles recovered from the ocean and they have also introduced a range of swimwear made from the same process. Eventually Adidas intends to use recovered plastic in its other product lines with the goal of eliminating the use of "virgin plastic" from their entire supply and manufacturing process.
Parley For The Ocean
Parley For The Ocean, who work with Adidas on their "Parley" line of footwear and swimwear, believes that consumers have the power to change corporations environmental policies.
Following their A.I.R. strategy "Avoid plastic wherever possible, Intercept plastic waste, Redesign the plastic economy." They state on their mission page that:
"Plastic is a design failure. We can only end the problem with a new material. In the meantime we save marine wildlife by cleaning up shorelines and oceans and cut into the production of new, virgin plastic through closed-loop recycling systems."
Bureo, a Californian company founded by surfers who would see discarded fishing nets whenever they went out surfing, has developed a way to recycle nylon fishing nets into skateboards and sunglasses. It is estimated that each year around 600,000 tons of fishing gear are dumped in the sea by fishermen and nylon nets make up the majority.
With the aid of a kickstarter campaign, Bureo conducted research into reusing recovered nylon at a plastic engineering laboratory. They began their "Net Positiva" recycling program in Chile where they would collect discarded fishnets from coastal communities and then use them to manufacture skateboards and sunglasses in the country's capital, Santiago. Since 2013 they have recovered and recycled 10,000kg of nylon fishing nets which they have transformed into their ocean themed designs. Every skateboard they produce is made of 30 square feet of nylon fishing nets that would otherwise be polluting oceans and beaches.
Patagonia,a California based fashion brand is another company working hard in this area. Their mission statement is to:
"Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis."
As well as being one of Bureo's investors they also have more than 50 of their own products that use, to varying degrees, recycled nylon in their production. Their 'Torrent Shell Jackets', for example, have an outer layer of textile made completely of recycled nylon.
As consumers become more aware and concerned with the damage being done to our oceans manufacturers are investing more of their time and money into finding new uses for what was formerly seen as rubbish.
Long term hopes
Consumers choosing products with less environmental impact will encourage manufacturers to adopt more environmental friendly policies that can only benefit our oceans and the animals that live in them.