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2021 to be the year of circular sneaker

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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Sneakers are not typically shoes that are designed to last or even be repaired. Fabric shoes tend to have a shorter lifespan than leather, with the majority of people discarding their old trainers once they are out worn out. While the idea of a circular sneaker is not new, it has yet to be adopted in a mainstream way like sustainable clothing.

Circular sneaker pioneer

2021 is set to be the year of the sustainable trainer. Swedish fashion brand Our Choice is a circular sneaker pioneer, promising to be a plastics free, fair, and circular fashion brand that believes sustainable shoes should be accessible to everyone. Their sneakers are made in the EU from Italian vegetable tanned calf leather, which the company says is sourced as a by-product from Italy’s food industry. The shoe features a sole that is 100 percent natural rubber and insoles made of linen fibres. The laces are produced from organic cotton, making the sneakers 100 percent plastic and chromium free.

Adidas is currently testing its Ultraboost DNA Loop sneaker to be upcycled into a new shoe once it reaches the end of its lifecycle. The shoe was designed as part of the German sportswear giant’s commitment to conform to the principles of a circular economy.

Elsewhere, subscription brand On Running, a Swiss-based company, has launched a recyclable shoe made from beans. The shoe is dye free and made from a single cut of fabric, allowing for minimal waste. The cost of a monthly subscription is 29.99 dollars, with a new pair sent after each 600km of use.

French outfitter Salomon has created local collection points for its first fully recyclable running shoe, the Index.01. Set to launch in the spring of 2021, the shoe is constructed so that it can be sent back at the end of its life, then disassembled and recycled into new products.

Italian start-up Dress-to-live launched a circular sneaker called WAO. They first debuted their shoes on a crowdfunding platform before launching an online store. All 12 parts of WAO shoes are made with natural, innovative and sustainable materials, such as a hemp and wood fiber upper, cork insole, cotton lining and degradable rubber sole. At the end of their lifecycle, Dress-to-live collects the shoes and separates the parts for compost and mixed waste, feeding worms with the organic parts.

Image via Salomon

Circular Economy
On Running