French company Salomon, mostly associated with quality ski equipment, is now debuting a fully circular (i.e. 100 per cent recyclable) running shoe.
When one of their new shoes wears out, every single part of it can be reused: the shoe’s upper, made from recycled polyester, can be recycled again into new thread for fabric. The foam sole can be ground up and used in the brand’s ski boots. Nothing goes to landfill.
It’s an important, sustainable change from typical shoes, which normally aren’t recyclable because they involve a mix of materials and glues. “Those materials are all assembled together, so if you want to recycle the shoe, you need to somehow separate those materials from one another,” says Brent James, product line manager for running shoes at Salomon. “That’s a very complex, time-consuming operation.”
The new shoe, called the Index.01, is designed to limit materials - even the thread used to sew the shoes is the same material as the rest of the upper. The shoes are also designed to be easily disassembled. The company will use regional collection centres to gather used shoes, clean them, disassemble them, and then send the materials to local partners for recycling. Then the recycled materials will be sent to manufacturers. In the case of the recycled foam, for example, it will be sent to the factory that makes Salomon’s ski boots, where the ground-up sole of roughly one shoe will be used for each new ski boot shell.
In the future, it may be possible to make soles out of recycled PET (i.e., polyester) as well, so that the whole shoe would be made of a single material and would be even easier to recycle.
Salomon sees a shift to circular products as necessary. “The footwear industry is a large contributor to pollution, and we have made a choice to be part of an industry shift that influences how shoes are made, how long they last, and what you do with them when it’s time for a new pair,” James says. As an outdoor brand, he says, both the company’s employees and customers expect it to make an effort to be more sustainable.
The company is working to incorporate ideas about circularity into all of its future products.
Original source: FastCompany
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