Adidas and Allbirds to develop sports shoes with 'lowest recorded' carbon footprint

Sporting giant Adidas has teamed up with shoe brand Allbirds to develop solutions that would create one of the lowest carbon footprints ever recorded for a sports shoe.

Adidas has committed to a 30% reduction in its carbon footprint by 203

Adidas has committed to a 30% reduction in its carbon footprint by 203

The collaborative project aims to combat the carbon intensity of the footwear industry, which is responsible for more than 700 million metric tonnes of carbon emissions annually. The two companies will work to develop and utilise renewables materials and regenerative practices to reduce the embodied carbon of their products.

The partnership will see both brands trial and explore new innovative models and resources across their supply chains, with the aim of developing a product to launch by 2021.

Currently, the average running shoe has a carbon footprint of approximately 13.6 kg CO2. Allbirds has developed a Life Cycle Assessment tool with third-party experts to evaluate the carbon impact of every process across the value chain, which will be used to measure any new products delivered through the partnership.

“Our brands don’t want to just participate in the sustainability conversation, we want to continue being catalysts and creators of substantial improvement,” Adidas’ vice president for brand strategy James Carnes said.

“The recent progress that our brands have made in the name of sustainable innovation has created the perfect momentum for this partnership to influence industry practices forever.”

Adidas has committed to a 30% reduction in its carbon footprint by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, while Allbirds has plans of achieving net-zero status, which has been set on an ongoing basis.

Last year, Adidas launched a circular economy service, whereby consumers can trade-in used or unwanted sportswear for rewards. Operated through a partnership with Stuffstr, the service lets UK-based consumers return any Adidas branded products purchased within the past five years to the brand in exchange for a gift card and loyalty club points.

Last month, B Corp Allbirds debuted a new running shoe made from renewable and natural materials and is the first product from the company to feature a physical "carbon count" label, detailing the lifecycle emissions of the product to consumers.

According to Allbirds, the “Dasher” shoe emits 9kg of carbon dioxide per pair, which is around 30% lower than the average trainer, many of which are made with synthetic plastics that end up in landfill or polluting the natural environment.

The company claims that through regenerative farming and innovations the natural materials used in the shoe could end up sequestering more carbon out of the atmosphere than what was used to produce it, making it a carbon-negative product.

Allbirds will display this information to consumers through a physical “carbon count” label, which details emissions from the materials, development, manufacturing and end-of-life of a product. Allbirds announced that they had become the first fashion brand to label every product with a carbon footprint.

“There is an urgent need to reduce our global carbon number, and this mission is bigger than just Allbirds or Adidas,” Allbird’s co-chief executive Tim Brown said.

“Whether we realise it or not this is a race that we are all running together as a planet and it is one that trumps the day-to-day competition of individual companies. I am hopeful that this partnership will be an example for others to follow as we pursue a more sustainable, net-zero carbon future.”

Matt Mace



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