July 16 (UPI) -- Shoe and apparel manufacturer Adidas pledged Monday to cut out 'virgin' plastic from all its shoes and sportswear by 2024.
Adidas' commitment said it's making the move to increase product sustainability by using recycled plastic instead. It said it would also stop using virgin plastic in its offices, retail outlets, warehouses and distribution centers, which would save 40 tons of plastics a year.
The company has trimmed down its use of plastics over the years, removing the material in shopping bags from all retail stores. It also sold 1 million pairs of Parley shoes last year made from recycled ocean plastic, and has a target to produce 5 million pairs this year.
The use of cheap and versatile plastic has grown 8.6 percent every year since 1950, and it's estimated there will be 12 billion tons of plastics in natural environments by 2050.
Recycled polyester is 10 to 20 percent more expensive than "virgin" materials, which has saved the company money. But industry experts say the price difference could drop as more companies switch to recycled material.
Adidas said its goal for next year is to make 11 million pairs of recycled shoes, which is 3 percent of its annual production.