Running sneakers wear out way too quickly--in the city I was going through a pair a year, and I'm not even a runner--and there's been no easy way for a manufacturer to pull them apart and recycle the individual materials.
Adidas has correctly identified that that problem is created at the design level. Their proposed solution is the UltraBOOST DNA Loop, a 100% recyclable and monomaterial running shoe made with no adhesives. The designers started by using just a single material for the entire shoe (bar the laces)--100% reusable TPU--and avoiding glue. "It's spun to yarn, knitted, moulded and clean-fused to a BOOST midsole," the company writes. There's no further details provided on what the "clean-fused" process is, so we're guessing that's the secret sauce.
Once the shoe is spent and returned to Adidas, "they are washed, ground to pellets and melted into material for components for a new pair of shoes, with less waste."
The UltraBOOST DNA Loop shoes that they've just unveiled are actually the third iteration; you've not likely heard about Gen 1 and Gen 2, because they were tested in-house with small groups of 200 end users for each batch. Now, having tweaked the Gen 3 design, they're seeking public volunteers to take a pair--for free--and put them through their paces to develop feedback.
"1,500 Creators Club members will be invited to take part in a beta test of a specially designed digital experience through the adidas app….
"The 1,500 members will be given the shoes for free by adidas and become part of a sustainability microcommunity who will co-create with adidas in a true open source fashion to further shape and fine tune the experience. The 21 week program will be driven by the adidas app with the communities actions and feedback helping futureproof the engagement model. By signing up for the raffle they are making a commitment to return the shoes to be grinded, shredded and turned into something new."
To join this "Creators Club," you need to download Adidas' app, and "prove [your] sustainability credentials by taking part in a quiz. Everyone who completes the quiz will be entered into a global raffle and randomly selected for the experience" for free, the company says.