The shoe grinding process can produce a suitable sub-product able to be introduced into a wide variety of polymeric products (paving, road safety, etc.), coming from an urban waste such as footwear. Now we have no management of this kind of waste, which causes various environmental problems arising from the final deposition of these products in landfills or incinerators.
The main environmental objective of this project is the management of a daily waste as is footwear, through its selective collection, grinding and incorporation into various polymeric products that will reach the market being more respectful with the environment during its manufacturing process. In addition, waste resulting from the shoe industry, currently separated and mostly ended in landfills without any kind of treatment, is also incorporated to the recovery chain. This will reduce the environmental impact of footwear at the end of their useful life.
Regarding the environmental outcomes, the project hopes to achieve the following:
· Elimination from landfills of a not biodegradable waste such as footwear, as well as industrial waste coming from footwear and footwear components companies
· Reuse of post-consumed shoes, since new soles and insoles will be manufactured from footwear waste
· Manufacturing of recycled polymeric products for road safety with the same mechanical properties than virgin polymer material.
It is expected that collection of footwear increases exponentially over the duration of the project, coming to a collection of 15.000 pairs at the final project, implying a grinding production of more than 9 tons reusable in other sectors. To a greater extent, the project has been focused according to the existing and available infrastructure that the project partners have. As the optimal starting point for the project, INVULSA’s points of sale have been selected because they already have the appropriate space, means (they currently collect part of their used footwear for social purposes) and skills. In addition, INVULSA already collects shoes from their own customers on their premises (quality claim returns, etc.); therefore the availability of used material for the project is ensured. As shown in the filling curve, used footwear is to be collected from the very beginning of the project, thanks to the infrastructure already available.
The type of footwear falling under this initiative will vary according to the degree of maturity of the solution to be implemented. Therefore, in the initial stages INVULSA will collect used footwear from their own product range, since INVULSA currently apply eco-design concepts that minimize the amount of materials used, metals, assembly methods, etc. However, at a later stage, but within the first 12 months of the project, they will collect a wider range of footwear, which in principle will not be limited by typology, until the target of 15,000 pairs is achieved within the 24 months of the project.
At the end of the project, the expected environmental impacts of eco polymeric products vs fossil fuel polymeric products are:
· Reuse of waste. The shoe grinding process has an output of about 90%, so it is expected to obtain around 7500 kg of reusable shoe grinding mill, and 60 tonnes of reusable industrial waste.
· Material recycling. The production of recycled material from footwear grinding is estimated at 10,000 pairs of shoes eco-manufactured. These shoes use eco-made soles and insoles. In addition, 2800 articles of the road safety sector will be eco-manufactured. With respect to the grinding coming from the industrial waste, an area of 10,000 m2 of floor polymer it is expected to be produced. In summary, around 143 tons of recycled material will be obtained.
· Waste eliminated from landfills. the selective collection will imply a decrease of this waste from landfill by bout 75 tonnes at the end of the project.