After the 2021 Los Angeles Marathon — which had been postponed until Nov. 7 because of the Covid-19 pandemic — ASICS carefully reclaimed about 330 square yards of polyester mesh fabric that it had used for product marketing and branding messages around the outdoor expo. The material was sent to a Los Angeles bag company, where it was cleaned and tested for manufacturability.
After the production of a few sample bags determined that the material could be repurposed, ASICS used the remainder of the mesh to produce 1,926 shopping bags that were then given away to expo customers at the 2022 marathon expo on March 18-19.
ASICS has produced footwear with great sustainability stories in recent years — for example, the ASICS Metaspeed Sky racing shoe has an upper made from 100 percent polyethylene terephthalate (PET) material — but the brand has also gone to great lengths to lessen its impact at events, too, says Paul Lang, a Senior Merchandising Manager for Performance Running with ASICS.
“Sustainability has been a long-term part of our game plan and every time we move forward from one event to the next, we become a little more sustainable,” Lang says. “As we’re growing as a running brand and the momentum and growth are coming back in full force (after Covid), we’re going to be at more races with more runners. But we know that at in-person events, the carbon footprint can be a little wide. We’re trying to be thoughtful and cognizant of how we’re treating everything and be able to contribute to our sustainability efforts and reduce that footprint.”
The upcycled bag program was a huge success, Lang says. The recycling process of the bags was highlighted on a sustainability wall inside the expo that explained the brand’s commitment to a “Sound Mind, Sound Body, Sound Earth” and showed how each individual bag was a one-of-a-kind design. And by the first day of the expo, every bag had been given away to happy customers.
The upcycled bag program fit in well with the Los Angeles Marathon’s overall push for greater environmental responsibility. For this year’s race, more effort and initiatives were put into waste diversion, reduction of disposable plastics, efficient use of water and promotion of sustainability to its participants. Other examples included the Volvo XC40 Recharge electric vehicles it used as its pace cars and the 350,000 commercially compostable, plant-based paper cups Nuun provided at aid stations.