To help reduce the problem of plastic pollution, a new running shoe made with ocean plastic and using 3D printing technology is to hit the shelves by the end of 2017. Could this be a game changer for the sports industry?
Plastic accumulating in our seas has been a problem for over 50 years now. Plastic does not biodegrade – instead with time, sunlight breaks it down into smaller and smaller pieces which, even when invisible, remain plastic polymers. So, photo-degraded or not, once plastic enters our oceans and our ecosystem, unless it is physically removed, it will simply keep floating around for eternity.
Now, sports fashion giant Adidas has teamed up with marine environmental organisation Parley for the Oceans to do its bit to reduce the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans. The result? A new running shoe made with ocean plastic.
How is it made?
The trainer is 3D-printed using yarns and filaments made from reclaimed ocean waste. Plastic waste comes from gill nets, such as those recovered during a mission in the South Pacific to protect sea life from illegal fishing, and also from plastic collected from the beaches of the Maldives, where Parley for the Oceans is working with the local government to help rid the island of its plastic problem.
Adidas aims to produce at least one million pairs of their 3D printed ocean plastic trainers by the end of 2017, and in the process, to support Parley in finding solutions for the problem of plastic waste (a truckload of which is estimated to land in our ocean every minute).
The use of reclaimed waste materials by big brands in their production processes is always welcome progress, and has great potential for positive impact. Developments in 3D printing technology and advancements in bio-fabrication could also help steer the manufacturing industry towards more sustainable production practices generally.
Could this shoe be a game changer within the sports industry? The industry’s commitment to making it mainstream, rather than it only being a limited line, and the price-tag attached to the shoe will ultimately be key.
Here’s a short video about the Adidas Parley collaboration: