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Brief Published: 5 Nov 2021

Tackling the Climate Crisis: Football’s Sustainability Focus

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Nike x Liverpool FC

Sustainability is an imperative for all industries, and the sporting world is no exception. In football, several high-profile clubs and players are championing green materials and product initiatives to help improve the sport’s environmental impact. Vegan boots and recycled plastic kits are among the launches leading the way.

  • Vegan Footwear: Tapping into the demand for ethical, animal-free products, Adidas has launched its first 100% vegan football boot, in collaboration with British designer Stella McCartney and Manchester United player Paul Pogba. The limited-edition Predator Freak+ is made with components that conform to both vegan and elite performance standards, with materials including some recycled content.
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Paul Pogba x Adidas by Stella McCartney
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Paul Pogba x Adidas by Stella McCartney
  • Eco-Conscious Kits: Sports brands are working to reduce the eco impact of football kits, from associated carbon emissions to plastic pollution. Nike’s 2021/22 international kits – adopted by the likes of FC Internazionale Milano, FC Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur – are constructed from up to 100% recycled polyester made from discarded plastic bottles.

    Gloucestershire-based Forest Green Rovers FC (known as the ‘the world’s greenest football club’) is working with UK eco sportswear producer Playerlayer to formulate better fabrics. Iterations include bamboo and, most recently, a composition of waste coffee grounds and recycled plastic.

    Meanwhile, Manchester City’s latest third kit from Puma, which is 100% recycled polyester, is produced using the German sports brand’s Dope Dye. This impact-reducing manufacturing technology drastically reduces the amount of water and dye used during production.
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Nike x Tottenham Hotspur FC
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Forest Green Rovers
  • Footballs from Waste: The sustainability narrative is also prompting the development of greener sports equipment – something we explore in Evolving Sports & Exercise Equipment.

    Nike’s Next Nature Football is a proof-of-concept skills ball made entirely from recycled materials. Its outer shell is formed from automotive airbag scraps, while the filling is 100% waste yarn. Although not currently available for purchase, the ball is part of a larger drive to influence similar innovation across sport.

For more material advancements and sustainability initiatives within activewear, see Ispo 2021 and CMF Industry View: Active 2021.

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