The Problem of Plastic Waste: Why We Need To Act Now

Plastic waste is a problem, and innovation is the solution. At adidas, we’re making changes to end plastic waste, and you can join us on the journey.

Why is plastic waste a problem?

The crisis of plastic waste is at a tipping point. Now more than ever before, we have a responsibility to the future of our planet. Everything we do, however big or small, impacts our world and our future. Every day, the equivalent of 1440 dump trucks of plastic waste enter our oceans (1). For every person on the planet, there is one ton of plastic in the ocean (2). If we continue on the way we are, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish (3).

More often than not, this plastic has lived a singular life - perhaps as a water bottle, a plastic bag, or a wrapper. It served its purpose, but goes on to linger in the environment for centuries, sometimes longer - turning the world’s natural beauty into a dumping ground. This is lethal for animals, who mistake the plastic pollution for food or get caught up in it and die as a result. Not only is the plastic dangerous for animals, it’s dangerous for us too. The plastic that is swallowed by sea life ends up in our bodies or is broken down into microfibres and swallowed as drinking water.  

We could go on and on about how big the problem actually is and how much worse it could get. But we’d rather focus on fixing it.


We are part of the problem, and we know it. As a sportswear manufacturer, we’ve done our fair share of damage. Although we’ve made mistakes in the past, we’re moving forward with innovative ways to end plastic waste whilst still providing the best products for athletes. In the same way we have supported athletes through wins and losses, we will support our planet by addressing our carbon footprint. Together, we will be better and we will make it right.

For decades our industry has been part of the problem and contributed to the plastic pollution in the world. Since we have realized our role in this, we have started to implement sustainable solutions with the ultimate goal to end plastic waste.

Brian Grevy, Executive Board member, Global Brands

In 2015, we partnered with Parley for the Oceans. With this partnership, we’ve already made changes we never thought possible. Through sport, we have the power to change lives. And just like with sport, we have a gameplan. We like to call it our “Three Loop Strategy” - our plan to help us end plastic waste through innovation and partnerships.

Loop 1 - Recycled Loop: Made with recycled materials

We are committed to making products with recycled materials, supported by the introduction of our Primeblue and Primegreen performance fabrics.

Loop 2 - Circular loop: Made to be remade

Our goal here is to make products that can be remade into new ones once they’ve been worn out.

Loop 3 - Regenerative loop: Made with nature

The third and final loop represents our ultimate goal: for our products to be made with renewable resources and natural processes.

The Three Loop Strategy will help us to:

1. Use exclusively recycled polyester by 2024

2. Reduce our carbon footprint by 30% by 2030

3. Be entirely climate neutral by 2050


Time is against us. We push harder, with more focus, and also work together with like-minded partners to overcome technological and economic challenges to accelerate meaningful progress.

Brian Grevy, Executive Board member, Global Brands

9 Tips On How to Use Less Plastic 

At adidas, we’re making changes to end plastic waste - and you can join us on that journey. By slowly beginning to intercept plastic waste in your daily life, you can make small changes that have a big impact on our future. Here are 9 small steps you can take to use less plastic.

1. Consider the brands you buy from

When shopping, ask yourself whether the brand you’re buying from is doing all that it can to avoid plastic waste. Many brands are now offering products made from recycled or natural materials. By educating yourself about their efforts, you can rest assured you’re buying from a brand that is doing its part.

2. Make your own

Instead of buying new items, make your own version where possible. For example, making your own yoghurt, milk, shampoo or body wash is easier than you think, and you’d be avoiding buying the plastic packaging they’re usually sold in.

3. Fill ‘em up

Many places now offer refills when you bring your own containers. From milk at farmers' markets to soaps and shampoos at local zero-waste shops or refill stations, a simple search online will show you where you can go to make better use of your empty bottles.

4. Say no to single-use plastic

If you’re offered a plastic bag at checkout, say no. If you’re offered plastic cutlery or a straw with your takeaway, say no. If you’re given tea in a plastic cup, say no. Instead, bring your own containers; using tote bags for your shopping or investing in a flask for your hot drinks are easy, fuss-free switches to make that have a big impact on plastic waste. Plus, an insulating flask will keep your drinks hot/cold for longer.

5. Shop local

Supermarkets usually package meat, vegetables, fruits and other products in plastic packaging. Buying your groceries from a farmer’s market instead not only supports small businesses, it also means you’ll be dodging the pesky plastic packaging.

6. Throw away with care

When throwing something in a bin, consider if it’s going in the right bin. Often, absent-mindedness will result in waste being in the wrong container and ending up somewhere it shouldn’t. Separate your waste in a considered fashion to avoid that happening.

7. If you see it, intervene

If you keep your eyes open, you’ll see plastic waste everywhere. Do your bit by picking it up and recycling it, or going the extra mile by signing up for an official clean-up project.

8. Talk about it

By further fuelling the conversation and educating others about how they can intercept plastic waste, you are contributing to the end of it. Not everyone is aware of their actions, so simply informing others about their contribution to plastic waste might alter their choices in the future. So spread the word and take action. It’s up to each and every one of us to ensure our planet remains beautiful and unharmed, so there’s always more that can be done.

9. Choose adidas X Parley

If you’re in the market for some new sportswear, choose from our adidas X Parley range, featuring products made with Parley Ocean Plastic (upcycled plastic waste intercepted from remote islands, beaches and coastal communities before it reaches the oceans). The high-performance sportswear in this range is just the beginning of our race to help end plastic waste and protect our oceans.

Looking for more ways to use less plastic? Here you’ll find 41 more tips to avoid plastic from adidas and Reebok employees. 

¹The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking The Future Of Plastics. © World Economic Forum, January 2016, Ref 080116. Available online at: 

²Geyer 2017). Production, Use, And Fate Of All Plastics Ever Made by Roland Geyer, Jenna R.Jambeck, Kara Lavender Law Science Advances. 19 Jul 2017 : E1700782 

³The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking The Future Of Plastics. © World Economic Forum, January 2016, Ref 080116. Available online at: