There is something beautiful about the soccer field before a match. The grass is perfectly mowed, the lines perfectly placed, and the stands quiet and clean. The buzz builds as the players and fans fill the stadium and the opening whistle brings the roar of the crowd.
90 minutes takes a toll on every aspect of the ground and requires special attention to return the field to its pristine state. The same is true for the global pitch whether it is one of the many soccer cathedrals of Europe or a patch of dirt with makeshift goals and no nets. And the major soccer brands are doing their part to make sure that the environment is always in good shape for the beautiful game.
adidas is continually looking for innovative ways to lessen their global footprint. The initiatives start at the headquarters in Germany by phasing out plastic bottles and extends to their stores around the world with a goal of phasing out plastic bags by the end of the first quarter of 2016. They have been using 100% recycled content paper in shoe boxes since 2014.
These in-house solutions are just the first step in a larger process. The 3-Stripes have worked closely with Parley for the Oceans to help clean the world’s oceans. At the end of 2015, the jointly unveiled footwear concept that utilized a 3D-printed shoe midsole made from ocean plastics.
“Together with the network of Parley for the Oceans we have started taking action and creating new sustainable materials and innovations for athletes. The 3D-printed Ocean Plastic shoe midsole stands for how we can set new industry standards if we start questioning the reason to be of what we create,” said Eric Liedtke, adidas Group Executive Board member responsible for Global Brands.
The work with Parley for the Oceans gave adidas the opportunity to speak at ‘Parley Talks’ a symposium on climate change in June 2015 convened by the United Nations President of the General Assembly. Fittingly the team from adidas wore shoes made from yarns and filaments reclaimed and recycled from ocean waste and illegal deep-sea gillnets that came from the sea to the street in just six days.
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The focus on eliminating plastics has been huge. In 2014, adidas used roughly 11 million yards of recycled polyester in apparel. This amount of material can create about 7 million adidas t-shirts.
Nike is another leader when it comes to sustainability. Plastics are one focus of their efforts as well. Nike unveiled the Nike Vapor with Aeroswift technology earlier this year in New York City. The material is lighter, has more stretch, wicks sweat better, and dries faster. And this cutting edge fabric uses approximately 16 recycled bottled in each kit.
Since 2010, Nike has used over 3 billion plastic bottles in their gear permanently removing them from landfills and the oceans.
Nike’s use of flyknit in some of their shoes and soccer cleat silos has led the fight for sustainability. Flyknit reduces waste by 60% when compared to traditional cut-and-sew footwear and in the process reduced 3.5 million pounds of waste since 2012.
And the Swoosh appears to only be at the top of the iceberg. Nike has 500+ flyknit-relate patents globally so more innovations are in the works.
In celebration of Earth Day, Under Armour revealed a concept cleat that is made of more than 70% sustainable materials. The process involved looking at every aspect of the cleat and determining how it could be made more sustainable but still have high-level performance.
Chris Wingert has trained in the cleats and gave positive feedback.
“The boots are great – super comfortable and I think they look really sharp,” the Real Salt Lake defender said. “All of the guys (on the team) were making comments!”
The full grain leather cleat uses a vegetable tanning process with a heel counter and forefoot made from bamboo composite and with an outsole with bio-based injection that is 99% renewable. The sockliner is made from bio-based foam, laces made from recycled yarns, and logos are etched on the cleat.
Puma is focused on 3 dimensions of sustainability since their ‘Forever Faster’ transformation. The 3 areas of focus are economic, social, and environmental. The balance of these dimensions is crucial when looking at how to be economically responsible while taking into account the needs of employees and partners and achieving environmental sustainability.
Jacques Cousteau once said that ‘people protect what they love’ and fortunately there is a great love around the world for soccer and with the help of companies with that shared passion for the beautiful game the chances are great that the global pitch will remain green.