Adidas has unveiled a new shoe featuring biodegradable fabric that’s designed to break down within hours of its disposal using a water and enzyme solution.
The one catch: the design appears to be attached to a foam sole suggesting that a large portion of the shoe would still end up in a landfill.
Adidas’ Futurecraft Biofabric was presented at last week’s Biofabricate conference in New York. The unique design features a synthetic spider silk called Biosteel that is 100 percent biodegradable, according to the shoemaker.
The sneaker, which touts itself as the first biodegradable shoe of its kind, is currently just a prototype but the company expects it to become a commercial product by next year, Wired reported.
According to Gizmodo, users simply place the shoes in water and add a digestion enzyme called proteinase that will cause the protein-based yarn to decompose within 36 hours.
“This process is 100% natural,” an Adidas spokesperson told the news site. “The shoe would not dissolve if worn in rainy weather conditions, for example, as the presence of proteinase is all important to the process.”
It’s not clear what would become of the sole, however.
The shoe appears to feature Adidas’ Ultra Boost outsole, which according to Adidas’ website is composed of elastic foam particles called thermoplastic polyurethane or TPU.
That’s great if you enjoy a nice spring in your step, but its union with a biodegradable fabric otherwise appears counterintuitive. Multiple requests for comment from Adidas were not returned.
Regardless of the sole, Adidas presses that the new fabric is not just beneficial for the environment, but for athletes too.
The silk is said to be 15 percent lighter than traditional polymer shoes, as well as stronger. The fiber is further described as 100 percent vegan and offering controlled moisture management. It also takes far less energy to manufacture than regular polymer shoes.
“With this development we are setting new standards regarding the functionality of renewable textiles,” Jens Klein, CEO of AMSilk, which produced the silk, said in a statement.
Can’t wait for their release? Adidas also recently unveiled a new line of sneakers that are made from recycled plastic taken from the ocean again, the sole appears to be made out of foam.
“The shoes’ laces, heel cap base material, heel webbing, heel lining and the sock-liner cover are also made with recycled materials,” Adidas states in a release. “Its design is inspired by ocean waves, to reflect the shoe’s unique story and adidas and Parley’s commitment to end the cycle of pollution in the oceans.”
The shoes are slated for release sometime this month.