The Adidas Group has inked a partnership with Parley for the Oceans, an initiative that is meant to preserve oceans through education and research as well as direct actions against plastic pollution in the oceans.

It should lead to the creation of materials made out of ocean plastic waste, to be integrated into Adidas brand products from next year. The partnership has already encouraged Adidas to reassess some of its own business practices – and to decide that it should phase out the use of plastic bags in its own retail stores.

Adidas hasn't yet worked out a timeline or a sequence of concrete steps. The measures described by the company toward this ban are to train retail staff to ask if the customers want a bag at all; to partner with other sustainable packaging organizations; to replace petroleum-based plastic bags with more sustainable alternatives; and to innovate in the way it delivers products, so as to both remove the need for packaging and to recycle it along the supply chain.

The decision was announced just a few days before the European Parliament approved a directive to limit the use of thin plastic bags in the European Union – precisely the bags that are least reusable and often pollute seas and rivers. It was estimated that EU citizens each used 180 thin plastic bags on average in 2010.

The directive aims to reduce EU consumption of the flimsy bags by about 80 percent by 2025. However, some parliamentarians fear that the thin plastic bags would often be replaced with paper bags instead of reusable bags. European countries are to give final approval for the measures later this year.

The partnership with Parley for the Oceans has been described as a prominent example of the Adidas group's new “open source” strategy for innovation, to engage with a variety of partners and crowd-source ideas to help shape the industry.

The collaboration was announced just as Adidas launched its latest sustainability progress report. Among the updates, the company said it had sourced more than 30 percent of all its cotton as Better Cotton last year, which is more than the original target of 25 percent and moving towards the commitment to source 100 percent of sustainable cotton across all brands and product categories by 2018.

Furthermore, the Adidas Group is integrating increased quantities of recycled polyester into its ranges. It used about 11 million yards of recycled polyester last year, which could amount to the equivalent of about 7 million tee-shirts (and directly contributes to the reduction of the volume of used plastic going into the environment).

Adidas has also been expanding its product offering integrating DyeDye fabric, which saved 100 million liters of water last year. Available on the Adidas group's website, the report outlines many other initiatives carried out in the last year as well as the objectives of its multi-faceted approach to sustainability.