adidas unveils shoes made from ocean plastic trash

adidas has introduced the world’s first shoes whose “upper” is made entirely out of plastic trash and illegal fishing nets.

ocean plastic shoes
A prototype of adidas's new concept sneakers. Image: adidas

Plastic trash from the ocean and illegal fishing nets, two culprits behind the loss of marine animals in the ocean, are given a second chance to redeem their value on land by becoming adidas shoes.

The global sportswear maker unveiled last month its latest innovation in collaboration with non-profit group Parley for the Oceans, which partners with organisations and companies on projects that address the destruction of oceans from pollution and overfishing. 

The concept shoes was launched on the sidelines of Parley Talks, a climate campaign event titled ‘Oceans. Climate. Life.’ and hosted on June 29 by the United Nations at its headquarters in New York.

The shoes’s “upper” - consisting of parts of a shoe that cover the toes, the top of the foot, the sides of the foot, and the back of the heel - is made entirely from ocean waste and illegal deep-sea gillnets that has been recycled, adidas said in a statement. The gillnets were retrieved by Parley for the Oceans’s partner organisation Sea Shepherd, which tracked an illegal poaching vessel during a 110-day expedition that culminated off the coast of West Africa in April this year.

Gillnets are fishing nets that hangs vertically in the water to catch fish by their gills and is regulated by authorities in the United States. Gillnetting, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has caused the death of many sea turtles. It could also entangle marine mammals such as whales and dolphins, putting them at risk of getting dragged for miles. 

Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans, said the condition of the oceans is a fundamental part of the debate around climate change and his group aims to spread public awareness about their importance, while also inspiring others to collaborate with them in protecting the oceans. He commended adidas for having come up with an innovative product made of the plastic waste.

“We are extremely proud that adidas is joining us in this mission and is putting its creative force behind this partnership to show that it is possible to turn ocean plastic into something cool,” he commented in the statement.

The concept footwear is just the beginning of the sustainability partnership with Parleys, ahead of other ocean plastic products adidas plans to launch later this year, the Germany-based firm said.

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