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Adidas has a new collection made with recycled plastic bottles recovered from the oceans.

I have been trying to find the real environmental impact of this collection but it has been difficult to find any relevant figures. The most I have been able to find is some webpages claiming that one pair of sneakers corresponds to 11 recycled plastic bottles.

So, in order to measure the impact of this collection I am especially interested in the following: what is the impact of producing a pair of sneakers using recycled plastic bottles compared with a pair of the same model of sneakers using non recycled materials?

  • I'm not clear on what you're asking. Aren't you asking for opinions here? How does anyone know what the impact of recycling marine plastics into shoes will do? Are you asking what it will do for Adidas? Environment? Other shoe manufacturers? – Sun Jun 2 '17 at 5:51
  • @Sun I would like to know what is the environmental impact of these new products compared to the traditional version of the same products. Is the environmental impact of the production process the same for both products? Is it different? – A. A. Jun 2 '17 at 6:06
  • This article may be helpful: theguardian.com/sustainable-business/sustainable-fashion-blog/… Not sure how you'd do a comparison since there isn't a non-recycled version of the shoe. dezeen.com/2015/07/08/… Taylor constructed the Adidas x Parley shoes using the brand's existing footwear manufacturing process, but replaced the yarns with fibres made from waste plastic and fishing nets. – Sun Jun 2 '17 at 8:33
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The biggest impact is that you will contribute to the problem of microplastic pollution. I cannot find any studies on this but I would think that this negative effect would outweigh the positive effect of bringing attention to ocean pollution. In fact, by presenting the products as a solution you might prevent a real solution to all plastic pollution (including microplastic pollution) because people will continue to buy (recycled) plastic clothing (one of the main contributors to this pollution) and therefore think they have done their share.

What you want to do is to avoid plastic all together, especially tires on vehicles (maybe bicycles are ok, but we should look for alternatives) and plastic clothing.

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The impact is multifold.

  1. Marketing --> Awareness about trash in the Ocean
  2. Durability --> On average shoes last longer than one way plastic bottles.
  3. Energy expenditure. --> It is probably easier to just pump the oil up and refine it vs. sending a ship out to sea to harvest plastic, transport it to shore, sort the different plastic types, melt the plastic, make it into pellets

My obviously unscientific summary would be: I'd prefer the harvested plastic to be used for more durable items like benches and tables vs just another consumer product like shoes that will end up in the trash or the ocean eventually anyway.

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