Biodegrade your sneakers

By Laurent Laboutiere
— Dec 14, 2016

Biodegrade your sneakers

During a Biofabricate conference in New York dedicated to innovative biomaterials, Adidas presented a prototype featuring a new ultra resistant and biodegradable fiber known as Biosteel. Inspired by natural silk, this new material dissolves within 36 hours when immersed in a bath with enzymes.

Developed by AMSilk, a company from Munich, the fiber is made from proteins that imitate spider silk and is 15% lighter than polyester. One hundred percent vegan and biodegradable, it is produced by mixing fermented bacteria and sustainable resources to avoid environmental problems tied to the use of polyester fibers (the most frequently used material for sports shoes). The fiber is made without using fossil energy and represents considerable energy savings because Biosteel production does not require high temperatures. According to James Carnes, VP for Strategy Creation at Adidas, this fiber not only allows abandoning fossil energy and creating more resistant material, it also leads consumers to make more responsible choices.

The issue of product lifecycle end is one of the major topics in the sports industries. In 1993, Nike, the main competitor of Adidas, launched the “Nike Grind” program for recycling shoes that transforms used sneakers into a covering for athletic surfaces. Dissolving used shoes ensures a more ecological lifecycle end for Biosteel products, without requiring a recycling circuit like the Grind program. This will save on waste collection, transport, sorting and processing while making consumers responsible for the end of product life.

According to Carnes, if the use of Biosteel is generalized, it will keep products made with this technology from polluting the oceans, which are currently threatened by an excess of plastic materials. Reducing ocean pollution is a cause that is dear to the heart of Adidas, which developed a partnership with the “Parley for the Oceans” NGO last year to produce clothing and shoes from recycled plastic for the general public, as well as for professional football clubs (in particular, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid).

Biosteel technology offers many opportunities to manufacture more sustainable products, but the technology alone cannot reduce plastic pollution or replace all the fossil energy-based materials used by the Group. Still in the test phase, Biosteel nonetheless represents a much larger R&D program by Adidas to reinvent and optimize its production processes, with the ultimate goal of the total elimination of non-recyclable plastics. 

We like: The search for new biomaterials to decrease the use of fossil energy in the production process and reduce the environmental impact of ocean pollution. Recycling circuits replaced by enzymes.

We were inspired by: Making customers aware of and responsible for the product lifecycle end by associating them to a practical solution; in this case, the availability of a treatment process for the products.

#innovation #ecology #pollution #sustainable #fashion #fashiontech


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