Allbirds, carbon, sustainability

In a collaboration unveiled today, Adidas and Allbirds will endeavor to bring a sports performance shoe with the “lowest ever carbon footprint” to market by 2021.

Last month, Allbirds launched its “Tread Lighter” program and carbon footprint numbers, which now appear on every product, online and at retail so customers know each shoe’s carbon impact throughout its life cycle. The initiative is what Joey Zwillinger, cofounder of Allbirds, calls the “next chapter” — following the achievement of becoming fully carbon-neutral last year.

Meanwhile, Adidas committed to a 30 percent reduction in its carbon footprint by 2030, with its sights set on reaching carbon neutrality by 2050 as part of its End Plastic Waste initiative.

The latest partnership between Adidas and Allbirds will involve each exploring innovations across their entire supply chains, specifically in manufacturing, transportation and renewable energy and materials.

Citing a 2018 global impact study by Quantis stating 700 million metric tons of carbon dioxide are emitted by the footwear industry annually, each brand aims to take advantage of setting a “new standard” in the footwear industry’s fight against climate change.

“Our brands don’t want to just participate in the sustainability conversation, we want to continue being catalysts and creators of substantial improvement,” James Carnes, vice president of Adidas brand strategy, said in a statement.

“There is an urgent need to reduce our global carbon number, and this mission is bigger than just Allbirds or Adidas,” said Tim Brown, co-chief executive officer of Allbirds. “Whether we realize it or not this is a race that we are all running together as a planet and it is one that trumps the day-to-day competition of individual companies. I am hopeful that this partnership will be an example for others to follow as we pursue a more sustainable, net zero carbon future.”

Certain standards will guide the collaborative project, with Adidas’ “stringent” performance standards and Allbirds’ new carbon footprint methodology put to the test. By these metrics, and as a standard of comparison, the average running shoe has a carbon footprint of about 13.6 kg CO22.

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