The footwear industry is taking a step towards circular economy

The fashion that adorns our feet is strongly based on sustainability. These figures are a powerful wake-up call to encourage action in favor of efficient management of used footwear, a pending issue in our country where 275 million pairs of shoes are sold annually. While the increasingly popular use of second-hand goods is good news, an answer is still needed as to when a pair of shoes has reached the end of its useful life, which can range from three to five years. Also, once out of circulation, only 10% is used by solidarity efforts and the rest end their days in landfills.

Although recycling is not yet a mandatory mandate at the corporate level, there is already movement in the footwear industry. Since the Law 7/2022 on Waste and Contaminated Soil for a Circular Economy came to light, the concern of companies to lay the foundation for post-consumer treatment to reduce the environmental impact of their products has risen. No wonder given that A pair emits about 15 kg of CO2. The Spanish footwear industry has begun to do its homework by creating a SCRAP (Collective System of Extended Producer Responsibility).

A total of nine companies (currently) are the driving force behind the Shoe Waste Management Association (Jerezkal), a not-for-profit limited company launched in September last year. The scrap is a preliminary step before the Commission’s legislation forces producers to contribute to a collective system by 2025. Pikolinos, Wonders, Unisa, Zahorero, Mustang, Gioseppo, Pablosky, Pons Quintana and MascarĂ³ are perfect. “Names that provide funding to ‘move waste’ on a small scale to get data for startups,” he reveals. Raphael RhyoliteDirector of Kereskal.

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The objectives of the association should be clear reference to citizens and manufacturers, marketers and importers of footwear. To do this, “necessary subcontracting structures must be created to collect the waste, classify it and reassess it,” explained Rheolid, who emphasizes that “all partners are environmentally aware and aware of the problem being created.” In the ecosystem, a shoe becomes national when it ends its useful life. It is necessary to establish waste control, monitor its discovery and manage the resulting raw materials, so that the product leaving the factories is recovered and reused in the composition of new models.

The first challenge is collection. “For now, we are going to use the systems already implemented by various NGOs and associations across the entire Spanish territory,” reveals Reolid, which also aims to place its own containers and deposit systems in stores. As the government prohibits footwear from reaching landfills, Kereskal also contacts waste collection subcontractors to ensure proper segregation. After classifying the footwear, it comes into practice how to re-evaluate it, which is a very complicated phase.

added difficulties

An outfit is made of one piece, but a pair of shoes comes together with many items. Up to 15 different, and it is difficult to separate and evaluate them. “Industry strives to create a quality, well-assembled product, aiming to extract it in recycling time,” explains Rheolid. It is at this point that environmental design should indicate the line to follow. A good example is Camper ReCrafted. The company encourages customers who want to break free from their campers to take them to one of its stores so that its workshop in Mallorca can take them apart, create new patterns, and create a new, unrepeatable pair. Safety footwear can be returned to the production chain by being converted into secondary materials, thanks to the Recycla bander.

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Current technology addresses two pathways for utilization of shoe waste. “He Crushed The soles will separate the cut by density for separate re-evaluation,” says Rheolid, “in the case of recycled leathers and textiles can create regenerated leather, while, in the case of soles, subsequent micronization will provide the material. “It prioritizes the single-injection industry so that they use less and less fossil raw materials.” Other option Pyrolysis“It decomposes once the upper of the shoe is separated from the sole, producing oils for the petrochemical industry,” the expert admits.

Both possibilities have some way to go, but their potential is undeniable. One of the most sophisticated techniques was developed FastFeetGrindedA Dutch company recycles not only old shoes in its processing plant, but also materials left over from production and sample pairs, as well as recycled materials such as rubber, foam or leather.

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