Brooks Running, Crocs Inc., ECCO, New Balance, On, Reformation, Target, and Vibram have joined forces together with EarthDNA to launch The Footwear Collective (TFC), a non-profit initiative dedicated to uniting the global footwear industry to accelerate the transition to a circular economy.
While building a collective to highlight the issues is admirable, every brand struggles with the reality of contributing to the problem. Even Sneaker Impact isn’t immune. While we collect the footwear, after we recycle and sort to bring used and damage sneakers to underserved markets, the end of life is still a question.
We aren’t tracking those sneakers once they land in these smaller countries and although the shoes are worn for much longer than they are in the U.S. the end result is the same, landfills. Understanding this issue has created our own push to provide research and development to take completely unusable sneakers and turn them into new products:
The task isn’t easy and it’s extremely expensive. Discovering the Footwear Collective is inspirational because there may be a natural alignment between Sneaker Impact and TFC and this post is being written to hopefully engage EarthDNA and The Footwear Collective in opening a dialogue. We’d love to welcome members of every company involved to come to Miami and see the work taking place.
It’s not pretty or cool or as catchy as how the TFC page explains the partnership between the brands. We have a giant warehouse with millions of sneakers being sorted and bundled. It’s a difficult, tedious process. We have trucks picking up completely unusable sneakers and turning them into power for the electrical grid in Broward Country.
We have shredders chopping sneakers and those sneakers are being shipped to research teams who are utilizing AI to sort the broken-down materials. Using air and lasers the goal is to find a purity level which will allow the uppers and foams to be utilized in new products.
The brands that have formed to The Footwear Collective are in the same position and while our work follows what the brands are creating, until they all utilize a better method of make Sneaker Impact’s job remains the last line of defense in at least prolonging the life of sneakers still being made with plastics and toxic glues. This is our call to EarthDNA and TFC. Let’s open a dialogue and work on this. The world is depending on us to figure it out.