Sportswear maker Adidas has vowed to remove plastic shopping bags from thousands of the company’s global retail stores, a move that will eliminate usage of about 70 million bags per year.

The switch to paper bags will be implemented at Adidas’ roughly 3,000 retail stores effective “immediately.” The athletic-gear giant also got commitments from the “vast majority” of its franchisees to commit to switching to paper bags by the end of June. When accounting for franchisee locations, Adidas has about 14,000 branded stores.

“Plastic bags are always a problem because they aren’t a renewable resource. They are trash,” James Carnes, Adidas vice president of global brand strategy, told Fortune. “Good plastics have the potential to be reused but plastic bags are bad plastics.”

The move is part of a broader mission by Adidas to become more sustainable, even if switches like these cost the apparel maker a little more. Last week, Fortune reported on a series of six sustainability targets Adidas hopes to achieve over the next several years, including promises to reduce water and paper usage and switching to sustainable cotton.

Adidas said paper bag transition would result in the removal of more than three million plastic shopping bags in the U.S. each year and more than two million from the company’s home market, Germany.

The move to phase out plastic bags started a year ago, though Adidas will formally make the announcement on Friday, to coincide with Earth Day.

In the U.S., there has been an ongoing debate about how to get consumers to use plastic bags less frequently. It is estimated that globally, a trillion single-use plastic bags are used each year, nearly two million each minute.

Some cities and nations are aiming to introduce legislation to lessen that usage, including a proposed tax in New York City and an outright ban in California. The ban in California was passed, though implementation was delayed as opponents were able to get enough signatures to get a referendum. The state will vote on the issue in November.


By – John Kell – Fortune Magazine

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