Adidas pledges to use recycled plastic as WeWork bans meat

The organizations’ recent announcements are both aimed at being more environmentally friendly, but the vegetarian focus was criticized.

More organizations are seeking to become environmentally friendly—and hoping to earn PR kudos in return.

The latest company to announce its sustainability promise is Adidas, which hopes to use only recycled plastic in its shoes within six years.

Financial Times reported:

“Our goal is to get rid of virgin polyester overall by 2024,” Eric Liedtke, head of Adidas’ global brands, told the Financial Times. He said about 50 per cent of the material used in the 920m individual items Adidas sells is polyester, adding: “With those kind of volumes, we cannot make the transition overnight.”

CNN Money reported:

Adidas said its apparel line for the spring and summer of 2019 will contain around 41% recycled polyester.

The German company is also expecting a sharp increase in sales of its Parley shoes, which are made with plastic waste that has been intercepted before it reaches the ocean. While still a small share of its global sales, Adidas expects purchases to jump to 5 million pairs this year compared to 1 million in 2017.

“The shift would see the world’s second largest sportswear brand, which launched the first mass-produced running shoe made from recycled water bottles in 2016, target 5m in sales of recycled footwear this year and 11m in 2019,” Financial Times reported.

Starbucks recently vowed to ditch plastic straws in its locations around the world by 2020. McDonald’s also announced it was phasing out straws at its United Kingdom and Ireland locations.

WeWork bans meat from company functions

As many organizations are looking to be more environmentally friendly by cutting down on plastic use and waste, WeWork is looking to its employees’ diets.

Bloomberg reported that the startup told its staff it would no longer serve meat (fish excluded) at WeWork events—nor would it pay for workers’ expensed meals that include meat. It also is taking meat options out of its self-serve food and drink kiosks, which are in roughly 400 of its office buildings.

WeWork’s co-founder and chief creative officer, Miguel McKelvey, announced the change in a memo to employees. It read, in part:

In the past few weeks, many teams around the world have already taken action to help us become more environmentally conscious. From plastic-free events in Montreal to recycling initiatives in Hong Kong, we’re excited and humbled by how quickly our teams can make an impact.

But we know we can do more.

We have made a commitment to be a meat-free organization. Moving forward, we will not serve or pay for meat at WeWork events and want to clarify that this includes poultry and pork, as well as red meat.

New research indicates that avoiding meat is one of the biggest things an individual can do to reduce their personal environmental impact — even more than switching to a hybrid car. As a company, WeWork can save an estimated 16.7 billion gallons (63.1 billion liters) of water, 445.1 million pounds (201.9 million kg) of CO2 emissions, and over 15 million animals by 2023 by eliminating meat at our events.

One of our most powerful annual events is Summer Camp. Many of you have asked if we will be serving meat this year. In keeping with our commitment, we will not be serving meat at camp. This is a significant first step — and one that will have a meaningful impact. In just the three days we are together, we estimate that we can save more than 10,000 animals. The team has worked hard to create a sustainable, plentiful, and delicious menu. If you require a medical or religious accommodation, please contact our Global Policy Team.

Though the policy is fairly broad, it only sets rules on the food that WeWork purchases.

TechCrunch reported:

A WeWork spokeswoman confirmed the new policy to us — which specifically removes red meat, poultry and pork from company menus and expenses policy. Though she emphasized that the company is not prohibiting WeWork staff or members from bringing in meat-based meals they’ve paid for themselves.

Members are also still free to host their own events at WeWork locations and serve meat they’ve paid for themselves. The policy only applies to food purchased (or paid for) by WeWork itself.

Employees can also petition WeWork’s policy team for medical or religious exceptions.

Bloomberg reported:

Although the anti-meat stance is significant for the New York-based company, it’s far from the first startup to promote alternatives to animals. Juicero, a failed maker of high-priced juice machines, had instituted a similar ban on reimbursing employee expenses for meals at non-vegan restaurants.

The startup isn’t first to internally tout meat-free meals, but several communicators are criticizing the decision.

“Is cutting your carbon footprint so important as to add an administrative headache and alienate employees?” asked Inc contributor Suzanne Lucas.

Lucas wrote:

Right now there are more open positions than there are people to fill them. Implementing a policy that will be annoying to the 96 percent of people who are meat eaters is probably not your best recruiting tool.

Slate contributor Felix Salmon argued that the policy doesn’t touch upon the environmental footprint the organization’s buildings make—but it does make business harder for employees.

Salmon wrote:

WeWork, of course, has a substantial environmental impact of its own, almost none of which is food-related. It manages 10 million square feet of office space in 76 cities around the world, including Warsaw and Chengdu; across its 406 locations, some have much higher carbon footprints than others. As a tenant in those buildings, WeWork has very little control over how much energy they waste, but if it wanted to, it could confine itself to LEED-certified buildings. That way, landlords would have a strong economic incentive to make their buildings energy-efficient and therefore attractive to WeWork and other environmentally conscious tenants.

Instead, however, WeWork has created a system whereby, as a WeWork employee, I need to start worrying if I take a client out to lunch and she orders the Brussels sprouts. (After all, any decent chef will tell you that the easiest and most effective way to make Brussels sprouts delicious is to throw some bacon fat in there.)

What do you think of these PR efforts, PR Daily readers?

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