What is Adidas Doing to Accelerate Circularity?

Adidas' New Cotton Project
Sustainability leaders from global clothing company Adidas share how the business is stitching circularity into its footwear and clothing production

Global apparel company Adidas has outlined the many ways that it plans to boost the circularity of its products, including by extending the lifespan of its shoes and sportswear.

In a three-part online series, senior sustainability leaders at the business outline:

1 – Its circularity journey so far

2 – How research shapes its approach to circularity

3 - Its game plan for a circular future.

Nadja Gründler, Manager Brand Sustainability,, Adidas

So far, so good?

Adidas calls circularity “a departure from the old take-make-dispose linear model and a move toward a closed-loop system”.

It adds that its goal is to “minimise waste and maximise resource utilisation by extending the lifespan of our beloved shoes and sports products”.

So what has the company done so far?

Nadja Gründler, Manager Brand Sustainability, said: “At Adidas, we’ve pioneered the creation of products with a circular end-of-life solution known as Made To Be Remade (MTBR).

“This journey began with the introduction of the FUTURECRAFT.LOOP shoe in 2019.”

Nadja said the mono-material performance running shoe was successfully scaled to a fully commercial MTBR apparel and footwear collection.

She added: “During the last few years, we learned that implementing circular services requires a tight-knit collaboration with partners along the entire value chain, which covers waste collection, sorting and recycling.”

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Creating by integrating

From this year, there will not be any new MTBR collections.

Nadja said: “Instead, we’ll work to integrate the insights and experiences we have learned within Adidas and the industry.

“Looking back, when we launched MTBR, circularity was an untapped area. Our first efforts into the circularity space are paying us back with tremendous learnings that will help our industry.”

Pilots in previous years have included offering circular services, like trainer cleanings in stores, as well as rental and take-back programs.

Nadja said: “To reach our consumers in-store and online, we created the Wear Longer programme, our consumer-facing name for circularity.

“In a nutshell, we want to offer consumers easy solutions and help them make conscientious choices to extend the lifespan of their products.

“That means they can choose what clothing to repair, care for, pass forward, and more. Every option we provide aims to keep products in game for longer.”

Franziska Seehausen, Manager Innovation, Adidas

How research impacts circularity

Franziska Seehausen, Manager Innovation, said it is important to be a “frontrunner in innovation and getting ourselves involved in publicly funded research initiatives”.

She said: “Adidas has been engaging in cross-industry and public funded research projects for over a decade.

“Joining forces and building long-term partnerships with the public sector comes with many benefits. Together, we can leverage knowledge and early-stage research to create innovative concepts and ideas for products and apply them in the market; this materialises into working prototypes, demonstrators and blueprints.”

She added that a “perk” of working inside the research arena is that it provides a pre-commercial space to engage in a “continuous loop of testing, exploring and piloting ground-breaking innovation with limited risk”.

Franziska mentioned two projects that have grown from the creative arena:

  • Textile Recycling Excellence (T-REX) brings together 13 major actors across the value chain under the coordination and leadership of Adidas. It seeks to create a blueprint and seek out business opportunities for the closed-loop sorting and recycling of household textile waste in the European Union. Franziska said: “The key objective is to transform end-of-use textiles from waste into a desired feedstock and a commodity for new business models.”
  • The New Cotton project aims to scale the chemical recycling technology of Infinited Fiber Company to expand the circularity of cotton textile waste. Franziska said: “This exemplifies how Adidas has joined forces with leading names and innovators to demonstrate the potential of a circular fashion ecosystem. The New Cotton project was completed in 2024 and has shown a tangible impact in scaling closed-loop textiles with respect to sorting and recycling.”
Drishti Masand, Senior Manager, Sustainability Direction, Adidas

Game plan for a circular future

As with all companies, the challenge is to maintain and accelerate the circularity momentum.

Drishti Masand, Senior Manager, Sustainability Direction, said it is a “complex challenge that requires strong collaboration among multiple stakeholders”.

She added: “This includes working with direct and indirect value chain partners, ranging from collectors and sorters to pre-processing partners and recyclers, suppliers, and innovators.”

Drishti said Adidas partners with organisations including Fashion for Good, Textile Exchange and Circle Economy and participates in international research projects to develop recycling technologies, certify recycled materials and develop frameworks and guidelines for the fashion industry.

She said much of the direction for circularity will come from European Commission regulations, adding: “These regulations will eliminate some ambiguity and set baseline standards for every brand to adhere to.

“Working with our Government Affairs team to best prepare for the EU Green Deal, precisely with the EU Sustainable and Circular Textiles Strategy, we can closely monitor how we’ll be impacted in the future.”


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