One day, a report about plastic microbeads in body care products caught my attention. It bothered me that a few of our products were mentioned because, due to the cooperation with Parley, reducing plastic waste is close to my heart. Without losing time, we got to work and achieved a result that makes me proud.

“If the oceans die, we die.” Captain Paul Watson

But meeting Cyrill Gutsch was something special. Different departments had been in contact with an organization called Parley for the Oceans and I was asked to look into a potentially larger and closer collaboration with them. The topic of ocean plastic was interesting as firstly it supported a great cause – protecting and cleaning our oceans – and secondly it also provided the opportunity to make products manufactured from ocean plastic accessible to our consumers across categories. We exchanged a couple of mails, spoke briefly on the phone and finally met in Herzogenaurach in February 2015.

Enhancing people’s lives instead of restricting them

I was immediately impressed by his passion for saving the oceans that he puts at the center of all his activities. He gave up his former career in the creative industry to dedicate all of his efforts to one cause: saving the oceans. Talking to him it became so obvious that we need to avoid using unnecessary plastic, that we need to collect used plastic and that we need to recycle the collected plastic – and that we then finally will have to reinvent plastic in general.

“And what struck me most is that he wanted to do it in a way that enhances people’s lives rather than restricting them.”

Lots of education, support for NGOs, funding of research and permanently looking for different and better solutions. The more I worked with him, the more I started looking around for opportunities in my personal and professional area to support the cause. As a company, we had announced that we will stop using plastic bags and we have even got rid of plastic water bottles for meetings in Herzogenaurach. Privately, I started to avoid using plastic bags and reduce packaged food as well. Not easy, I can tell you.

Small beads, huge impact

While we are working on a wide variety of projects and initiatives with Parley for the Oceans to eco-innovate the way we design, produce and promote our products, I was looking at ways to make immediate changes happen. I became impatient and a Greenpeace report about microbeads in body care products caught my attention because adidas products were on that list. Only few versions of our shower gel contain microbeads, but these are products we sell a lot of. Of course we were not the only ones on the list. A lot of major body care brands still have products on the market containing microbeads, extremely small plastic pieces in particle sizes from 10 µm to 1.000 µm (1 mm). Those microbeads are washed down the drain, pass unfiltered through the sewage treatment plants and make their way into rivers and canals, resulting in plastic particle water pollution. Some of our competitors have already announced they will stop selling them as by the end of 2017. But in the context of our Parley partnership it was clear to me that we couldn’t continue offering products with microbeads. As the body care license sits within my area of responsibility, we immediately contacted Coty, our licensee, and started working with them on an exit plan. Their R&D department started developing new formulas, and at the end of October 2015 we got their confirmation:

By January 1, 2016, adidas and its license partner Coty will end the use of plastic microbeads in adidas body care products.

Two years ahead of some of the biggest players in the body care industry! A great achievement of our licensee Coty that shows that we can find alternatives and reduce plastic ocean pollution.

The new microbeads-free shower gels keep us AND the oceans clean.
The new microbeads-free shower gels keep us AND the oceans clean.
And this is just the start. I am sure that through our partnership with Parley we will increasingly support the reduction of ocean plastic pollution and come up with great products and great alternatives to the use of conventional plastic. As Cyrill would say: for the oceans!

What do you do to reduce plastic waste?


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by morgan 17.11.2015
It is great to see such a positive and impactful step in reducing ocean plastic pollution. And I hope that there is a plan to reduce the plastic usage that goes into packaging these shower gels.

One way I reduce plastic waste is by reusing my soap/shampoo bottle by refilling it at the store – which isn’t an option for most body wash products. Plastic bottles from packaging are a large source of marine debris, since the majority of these are not recycled (which I’m sure Parley can provide all the facts and figures for).

A great step, and many more to go.
by Charlotte van Luijk 18.11.2015
Great achievement Jochen Denninger. Compliments for the awareness of 'our part' in this Great (Pacific) problem as well as the fast action plan not longer selling these products. With small steps we can make a big needed change.

by Katrin Bressel 18.11.2015
Great!!! I have been worried about this for a while, and I am even more reading the article attached - saving the oceans is key, and who wants to eat those microbeads!? nobody!
by Anne 19.11.2015
great step in the right direction, for more alternatives to plastic in your daily life, check (my private initiative and education blog about a more sustainable living & lifestyle. #saynotoplastic #beachcleaner #everyactioncounts
by Manon 25.11.2015
This is a great step and nice to hear :) One thing I did to reduce my plastic use is to stop shower gels and use soap bars and shampoo bars (when I find them) instead. They also are very economic as it makes us use less at a time.
by emily 15.10.2020
I would prefer to use Natural products instead of this