Dutch Company Revolutionizes Shoe Recycling, Paving the Way for Sustainability

25 December 2023

FastFeedGrinded finds a breakthrough method to recycle every part of a shoe, offering a sustainable solution to the global footwear waste crisis.

Shoes have long posed a challenge for recycling efforts due to their complex composition and strong adhesives. However, one Dutch company, FastFeedGrinded (FFG), believes it has cracked the code to sustainably break down footwear. With nearly 50 billion shoes produced worldwide each year, and most ending up in landfills, FFG’s innovative approach could revolutionize the shoe industry’s environmental impact. By recycling every part of a shoe’s material, FFG aims to create a circular economy for footwear, reducing waste and promoting sustainability.

The Complexity of Shoe Recycling

Mass-produced shoes consist of around 40 different parts made from various materials, including plastic, rubber, metal, and foam. These components are often held together by powerful glue, making them challenging to recycle. The presence of glue can contaminate other recyclable materials, rendering traditional recycling methods ineffective. As a result, the vast majority of shoes end up in landfills, contributing to the global waste crisis.

FastFeedGrinded’s Innovative Approach

Danny Pormes, CEO and founder of FFG, has developed a groundbreaking method to recycle shoes. Through an automated system that utilizes heat and friction, FFG can process up to 2,500 shoes per hour. The company collects shoes from various sources, including the Dutch military, store collection boxes, and manufacturers who pay FFG to dispose of defective shoes. FFG then separates the shoes into different types before breaking them down into their individual materials.

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The Recycling Process

Once the shoes are disassembled, FFG separates the materials by type. Rubber is ground into fine particles, while fabric can be spun into new shoe laces. This meticulous sorting process ensures that each component can be repurposed effectively. FFG’s dedication to recycling extends beyond breaking down shoes; the company also collaborates with brands like Asics to develop new footwear made from recycled materials.

The Challenge of High-Performance Shoes

While FFG and Asics have successfully created shoes from recycled materials, achieving the same level of performance as traditional footwear remains a challenge. Romy Miltenburg, Asics’ manager of sustainability, acknowledges that high-performance shoes made entirely from circular recycled materials may not possess the same functional properties. However, Asics is committed to advancing its manufacturing processes to produce high-performance shoes that are environmentally friendly.

Overcoming Adversity and Looking Ahead

In 2022, FFG faced a devastating fire at its first recycling plant, resulting in the loss of everything. Despite this setback, the company demonstrated resilience by opening a new facility in just ten months. FFG’s commitment to sustainability has garnered support and admiration from both the industry and the public. The company’s determination to make a positive impact on the environment has transformed skeptics into believers.

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Conclusion:

FastFeedGrinded’s innovative approach to shoe recycling offers a glimmer of hope in the battle against footwear waste. By recycling every part of a shoe’s material and collaborating with brands like Asics, FFG is pushing the boundaries of sustainability in the shoe industry. While challenges remain, such as creating high-performance shoes from recycled materials, the progress made by FFG and other companies like Adidas demonstrates a growing commitment to environmental responsibility. As the world becomes increasingly conscious of the need for sustainability, the shoe industry must continue to innovate and prioritize recycling efforts to reduce its environmental footprint.

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