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April 13, 2022

Allbirds, Adidas scale low carbon running shoes

Sustainable footwear and apparel company Allbirds and German sportswear giant Adidas have released a new iteration of their Futurecraft.Footprint shoe to demonstrate that low-carbon running shoes can be delivered at scale.

By Beth Wright

The launch of the Adizero x Allbirds 2.94 kg CO2e marks another important milestone in the Adidas x Allbirds collaboration and continues to be the lowest carbon performance shoe Adidas or Allbirds have ever created.

Each of the Adizero x Allbirds 2.94 kg CO2E shoes equate to 2.94 kg CO2e per pair, meaning it remains the only Adidas and Allbirds performance model to go below 3 kg CO2e.

With more pairs available than ever before, the launch represents a personal best for both brands, highlighting how quickly innovation can advance when two market leaders work together. Doing more with less, Adidas and Allbirds combined their expertise to maximise performance benefits with minimal materials and smart solutions, to give every runner a shoe for performance and planet.

With each pair created with 63% less emissions, measured against the comparable Adizero RC3 running shoe at 7.86 kg CO2e, the Adizero x Allbirds 2.94 kg CO2e showcases a new approach to design and an alternative method of manufacturing that drastically reduces carbon impact.

What’s more, the Adizero x Allbirds 2.94 kg CO2 will come in four new colourways with each shoe coloured with no dye, a method that uses the material’s natural colour to help reduce water consumption.

“By continuing this progressive partnership, we’re hoping to pave the way for others to break new ground in footwear and clothing. We can take further steps towards zero carbon waste by working together, and we also want to show that drastic changes and solutions are possible within a very short time. As we are already in the midst of climate change, it is important to show people that industries can turn the switch now, and that there is still hope to contribute to not exceeding the 1.5 degrees Celsius target,” Kimia Yaraghchian, product manager at Adidas, says.

“Importantly, the launch of the Adizero x Allbirds 2.94 kg CO2e proves that like-minded ambition can help deliver low-carbon running shoes at scale. This project has laid the foundation for the decarbonisation goal. All the learnings from this project have subsequently and immediately been incorporated into the creation of further running shoes in order to achieve our footprint reductions more quickly. So stay tuned for more inspiring running shoes that will shake up the market.”

Hana Kajimura, head of sustainability at Allbirds, adds: “Expanding our collaboration to offer products in new colourways and at greater scales is a testament to how far we can move forward if we choose to work together with a partner that shares our vision.

“Climate change presents a formidable challenge, but the success of this project is an example of how two teams can work together to create a shoe fit for performance and the planet. Our overarching ambition with this shoe is to inspire others to open up their development processes and cooperate with others to create the most carbon-efficient designs possible.”

The Adizero x Allbirds 2.94 kg CO2e features:

  • Bio-based EVA  The midsole is made with 17% plant-based content derived from sugarcane offering a low-carbon component, developed in part with natural materials. The sockliner uses 46% bio-based sugarcane content and the tongue and heel foam uses 17%. 
  • Outsole innovation – The outsole, which is made with 10% recycled rubber, is said to be extremely lightweight and minimalistic. With a thickness of 1-1.2mm, it is designed to reduce the CO2 footprint compared to conventional outsoles.
  • Removal of the torsion bar – Removing the torsion bar completely has saved material and resulted in higher flexibility during the transition phase while on the run.
  • Tangram design creation – Both the upper and the outsole construction are inspired by the Tangram Principle – a design method that creates the visual impression that the upper material and the outsoles have been put together like a puzzle of individual parts. This means that all individual parts in their entirety should achieve as little scrap as possible in production in order to reduce waste.
  • Upper material  The upper is made with 77% recycled polyester and 23% natural lyocell—a fibre made from sustainably grown wood—designed to create a smooth, lightweight upper that lives up to performance expectations with a reduced carbon impact.
  • 100% recycled polyester features – The lining, laces and embroidery all feature 100% recycled polyester.
  • Carbon footprint callout for transparency – A nutrition list on the tongue reflects the carbon footprint of each lifecycle stage, including the total carbon footprint of the entire project from cradle to grave.

The Adizero x Allbirds 2.94 kg CO2e is available now at US$120.

Adidas and Allbirds first announced plans to develop a sports performance shoe with the lowest ever carbon footprint in May 2020.

The duo revealed the prototype of the first product from their collaboration a year later and in December announced plans to scale their collaboration to reimagine a lower-emission design process.

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