Adidas’ new soccer uniforms are recycled from ocean trash

Manchester United is one of the biggest soccer clubs in the world, so it may surprise you to learn that one of its new uniforms will be made of trash.

No, it hasn’t made the move in a bid to cut costs. Rather, it’s to highlight the growing environmental issue of marine pollution.

The team’s new “third kit” — for games where the regular home or away uniforms are unsuitable due to color clashes with the opposition’s outfits — is made from material created from plastics pulled out of the sea and off shorelines that can include everything from consumer products to discarded fishing gear.

Adidas says it’s committed to phasing out the use of virgin plastics in its sportswear, choosing instead to use materials created from recycled plastics.

The long-term project is the result of an ongoing collaboration between the German sportswear giant and Parley for the Oceans, a New York-based ocean conservation group. Some of you will recall its earlier efforts, which include footwear made with similar materials, as well as other sports clothing.

The design of  Manchester United’s kit is inspired by the 50th anniversary of its first-ever European Cup win, with the navy blue top reminiscent of the outfits worn by the United players in the team’s historic 1968 victory over Portuguese side Benfica.

But in the tribal world of English soccer, rival fans of Manchester United will now be happily describing the team’s trash-infused strip as befitting of a club that failed to pick up any titles this season, though such an observation would seem a little on the harsh side.

After all, it’s for a commendable cause, as Adidas category product director Oliver Nicklisch points out: “We all need to change the way we think and act toward our oceans. By working with Manchester United … we hope that we can highlight the issue of plastic damaging our oceans, and ultimately encourage and inspire football fans to join us in creating a better environment for everyone.”

Manchester United director Richard Arnold said that Adidas “continues to demonstrate how forward-thinking they are with its strategic partnership with Parley,” adding, “We are all acutely aware of the threat of plastic to the environment and we are delighted to be able to raise further awareness with this recycled kit, which I am sure the fans will love.”

Manchester United players will throw on the uniform for the first time during the team’s tour of the U.S. this summer.

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