Scarpa, an Italian company specializing in the production of outdoor footwear for mountaineering, trail running, trekking, hiking, urban outdoor and other sports, has developed a new project with the aim of promoting a new sustainable business model.
The project–which benefits from funding under the European Union's Life program–will be developed over 42 months and involves the production and marketing of a new footwear model from the company’s own brand, made through the collection, sorting and recycling of shoes that have reached the end of their life.
This procedure makes it possible to derive new raw materials from used footwear and production waste to create a new high-quality recycled products, thus decreasing the disposal and use of virgin raw materials and aiming to zero post-processing waste.
"More than 24 billion new shoes are produced worldwide each year, the vast majority of which end up in landfills at the end of their life cycle, representing a major problem for the environment," stresses Sandro Parisotto, president, Scarpa.
"Managing the amount of waste generated by used products is one of the main challenges of the footwear industry: shoes, in fact, are complex to recycle because they are composed of a mix of different materials that are very difficult to separate. With this ambitious project, we are offering our commitment to turn this around," explained Parisotto.
"One of the cornerstones of our production philosophy has always been respect for the environment, and the Re-Shoes project allows us to continue our commitment through continuous experimentation with totally recyclable and environmentally friendly materials without affecting product performance and durability," he added.
The new circular economy initiative is aimed at implementing a new sustainable business model, which the company hopes will become an established practice at the supply chain level and discover technological solutions not yet known.
In a first phase, the project will involve Scarpa's distribution network in parts of Italy, Germany and Austria to collect from consumers 15 thousand pairs of used shoes of the Mojito model, the brand's iconic product in the urban outdoor segment.
Subsequently, the collected footwear will enter a virtuous recycling system and lead to the creation of as many pairs of new footwear, made by reusing recycled material in the new model between 50% and 70%. Through this process, the company aims to reduce its production of greenhouse gases by 52.4% compared to standard processes, a 50% lower consumption of chemicals, along with 65% less water and 54.5% energy saving.
The project will follow a completely new paradigm for the recovery of leather footwear to reduce its overall impact.
The process will be based on the selective dissolution of leather by hydrolysis, and the resulting liquid will then be used to tan new leather without the addition of chemicals. The production of recycled leather will be based on the Evolo process (already used by Scarpa for some products), which currently allows up to 20% recycled content at the industrial level, with the real possibility of increasing the amount to 50%.
Specific attention will then be paid to the management of pre-consumer rubber waste generated during the process of cutting shoe parts, and which is currently almost completely burned.
The manufacturing process of the new shoes aims to reuse the reclaimed waste in the production of the new models.
Re-shoes is a project worth €2.6 million that is part of the Life program, through which the European Union provides funding for environmental protection initiatives and actions that combat climate change, seeking to facilitate the transition to a circular, sustainable and energy-saving economy during the period 2021-2027.
Various partners will support the company in developing the project, including Alma Mater University of Bologna, Sciarada Industria Conciaria for material separation and hydrolysis of leather and Rubber Conversion for the devulcanization of industrial rubber waste.