Recycled plastic bottles find a new place to play!

Posted on 19 January 2021.

1.8 million – that’s the number of plastic bottles used to create the new kind of football field that Adidas donated to a Miami high school.

Over the last few years, Adidas has been exploring the possibilities of upcycling plastic waste.

Building a football field with artificial turf, used more and more often around the world since it was first introduced in the 1960s, requires large quantities of virgin plastic to make the turf-like blades of grass, and rubber, usually from tire recycling, for the filling..

For the football field donated earlier this year to the Miami Edison Senior High School in Florida (United States), the German giant Adidas opted for recycled plastic and collected getting on for 2 million bottles - the equivalent of 18 metric tons of plastic waste - from the state's remote islands, beaches, coastal communities and shorelines.

The article published by Adidas doesn’t say which part of the artificial turf the recycled plastic was used to make, but CNN indicates that it was made into granules for the filling. This gives the synthetic grass stability and guarantees the performance, safety and comfort of the turf. It replaces SBR rubber, which is still widely used, but controversial due to the dispersion of pollutants (such as lead) that are potentially hazardous to health and the environment.

In addition to the football field, Adidas has installed dedicated recycling containers on the school campus to help students reduce their plastic waste.

100% recycled polyester by 2024

It has been several years since the brand launched its first initiatives to combat ocean pollution and explore the possibilities offered by upcycling plastic waste. Earlier this year, it announced plans to use at least 50% recycled polyester in its products by 2020, and to increase this ratio to 100% by 2024.

To achieve its goals, it has been working since 2015 with the environmental NGO Parley for the Oceans, of which it is a founding member. The partnership consists of collecting plastic waste before it reaches the oceans and recycling it to produce the German company's sportswear: jackets and sweatpants, sneakers, swimwear, football jerseys, etc.

Together, the two entities created Primeblue, a "Parley Ocean plastic" material created from recycled plastic waste collected from coastlines. In 2018, Adidas produced 5 million pairs of Ultraboost, a running shoe made partly from this material.
More symbolically and in addition to being an excellent communication and awareness tool for Adidas, the recycled plastic football pitch demonstrates once again how versatile this secondary raw material really is.