French-born footwear brand Salomon has been taking steps towards becoming a more sustainable brand and its latest concept is one long stride in its journey — running sneakers that are fully recyclable.
A major hurdle to a circular process in the footwear industry is the fact that shoes are made using multiple types of materials which then require sewing and glue in the manufacturing. The use of mixed materials makes it almost impossible to recycle shoes because of the need to separate each material and clean the shoes of glue. Salomon’s concept sneakers achieve full recyclability through the use of a single material, thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), which is implemented for the sole as well as the upper. The pure input is what allows these shoes to be recycled at the end of their life cycle.
From there, the shoes can be reincarnated into new products by grinding the TPU down into pellets and then melting those pellets to be put through an injection machine to form the shell of a ski boot.
The sneakers employ two types of TPU to provide cushioning at the sole and lightweight breathability at the upper. Salomon even claims that the shoes have better cushioning properties than most EVA foam sneakers on the market.
Vice President of Salomon Footwear Guillaume Meyzenq states, “As a leader in running and the largest ski boot manufacturer, this is a unique Salomon solution to footwear sustainability that extends the life-cycle of the materials used by up to 10 times and drastically reduces the effect on the environment.”
Salomon expects to roll out the concept in 2021 and is part of their initiative to “have 100 percent of its new products designed to one or several of the company’s circular economy principles by 2025.”