Rothy’s recycles 20,000 pairs of shoes in a pilot recycling program — What it means for the footwear industry


Rothy’s is that much closer to achieving circular production, a commitment the company made last year. To do this, Rothy’s also announced the launch of its recycling pilot program which is well underway.

Since the pilot was announced, 20,000 pairs have been recycled, according to the company.

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Part of the recycling program involves the customer. Rothy’s first tested the pilot last October with in-store shoe deposits and incentivized customers with $20 off a same-day purchase for those who participated in the program. Ultimately, the program needs to be accessible to all customers, which is what the company is working on.

“In our industry, that infrastructure just doesn’t exist,” Saskia Van Gendt, sustainability manager at Rothy, told FN. “How do you as a brand develop all the infrastructure to take back shoes and convert them into materials that can be reused? So we had to build that from scratch.

Rothy, Sustainable Development Manager, Saskia Van Gendt.  - Credit: Courtesy of Rothy's

Rothy’s sustainability manager, Saskia Van Gendt. – Credit: Courtesy of Rothy’s

Courtesy of Rothy’s

The executive said she is optimistic that Rothy’s will be able to provide this knowledge to the rest of the industry to create a solution at scale and walk the consumer through the journey.

While there were inevitable challenges, Van Gendt said 2023 is still the goal when it comes to launching his large-scale recycling program and creating truly circular material through that yarn twice. recycled. Through this process so far, there have been many learnings, including changes in the structure and colors of shoe materials, for example.

“We’re looking at how we prototype and understand the structure, elasticity and color constraints around that and are looking at prototyping shoes or other products that we can make from this twice-recycled material,” said she declared.

Rothy's recycled shoes.  - Credit: Courtesy of Rothy's

Rothy’s recycled shoes. – Credit: Courtesy of Rothy’s

Courtesy of Rothy’s

Last year, Rothy’s also announced it was aiming for zero waste certification, a process that looks at the factory holistically and how it minimizes waste across the operation. Van Gendt said they are aiming for the end of 2022 to achieve that goal.

While Rothy’s has won a loyal following for its washable shoes made from discarded plastic bottles created through a 3D knitting process that uses the exact amount of material needed, the company is very focused on the future and innovations. material. Part of that is twice-recycled materials, as well as what could be the next kind of waste feedstock ripe for processing.

“If water bottles declined as Yahoo Life, it’s not about continuing to produce water bottles so you can use them as yarn,” Van Gendt said. “We keep an open mind to other biobased or plant-based products [materials], which also continues to grow. Last year we launched a product based on hemp, which has enormous regenerative properties. We are therefore very open to a sort of waste transformation matrix, but we also seek to favor biomaterials. »

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