Of all the things you wear on a daily basis, shoes endure the most wear and tear, and thus rarely survive for more than a few years. Your options are usually limited to tossing the work out kicks in the trash. Now Adidas has created a new pair of sneakers that will completely biodegrade when you’re done with them.
The Futurecraft Biofabric concept sneakers were revealed today at the Biofabricate Conference in New York, and they are made from a unique bio-engineered biopolymer fiber called Biosteel that’s created using the same proteins that spiders use to make their super strong silk.
Besides being incredibly strong and durable, 100 percent biodegradable, non-allergen, and completely vegan, the Biosteel used for the upper portion of the Futurecraft Biofabric sneakers is also 15 percent lighter than comparable synthetic fibers. So in addition to helping the environment by using materials that can be sustainably manufactured, Adidas has also managed to create a better shoe for performance athletes.
For the time being, the Futurecraft Biofabric sneakers only exist as prototypes, which means you shouldn’t harass your local sneaker shop for a pair just yet. But back in June the company also revealed its Adidas x Parley shoes, made from recycled ocean plastic. While these were initially limited to just 50 pairs, they eventually became the $200 Adidas UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley sneakers that are now widely available today.
Will Adidas ever put the Futurecraft Biofabrics into production? That almost certainly depends on how expensive it is to produce the Biosteel fibers, and how much it would affect the price tag of the sneakers. But since Nike now sells shoes with power laces for $720, the price tag bar has been significantly raised recently.
Update 5:31 p.m.: We reached out to Adidas for more info about how long it takes for the Futurecraft Biofabrics shoes to biodegrade, and the process actually requires a specific enzyme to break down the artificial silk fibers.
When the shoe is placed in water with a high enough concentration of a digestion enzyme (called ‘proteinase’), it will lead to the protein-based yarn to decompose within 36 hours. This process is 100% natural. The shoe would not dissolve if worn in rainy weather conditions, for example, as the presence of proteinase is all important to the process.
In other words, they won’t just rot off your feet after a year.