It looks like adidas is not the only sneaker company investing in the plastic evolution, Spanish brand Ecoalf, founded in 2010 by Javier Goyeneche, recently announced the launch of Shao sneakers. The new no-fuss footwear collection has been made from recycled waste found in oceans and rivers.
According to a Greenpeace report, of the 260 million tons of plastic, the world produces each year, about 10 per cent ends up in the Ocean. This why we champion brands making Ocean plastic an increasingly popular material by turning global waste into high-performance products.
Making Plastic Pollution, Footwear Ready
The Ecoalf process is quite simple. Working with fishermen along the coast of Spain to source the waste, the shoe brand takes discarded plastic, processes it into a yarn, and then uses it to create a black knitted upper sole that fits the wearer like a sock. “We keep the plastic bottles, and the rest goes to a recycling facility. For the plastic, we do a quality control check, because a bottle at the bottom of the ocean is very different from one floating along the coast,” Ecoalf explained. Once it has been thoroughly cleaned, the plastic is broken down into smaller parts and reduced to a polymer. Ecoalf uses this raw material to create yarn for a range of different fabrics.
“There are no laces, no insole, and we’ve printed our label to avoid using any extra fabric, without compromising on the design”
When it comes to the outer sole of the shoe, Ecoalf transforms algae, taken from lakes and rivers, into a flexible foam that permits easy movement, while benefiting the environment. “Algae gives us the most flexible-performing foam,” the brand told Dezeen. “Also, removing it allows clean water to circulate properly, supports plant and animal life, and eliminates the need for non-renewable oils.”
Of the many great things about this minimal sneaker, my favourite has to be the fact that it can be mass-produced with zero-waste. “We only use two materials and construct the upper sole in a way that reduces the number of steps in the supply chain to just one. There are no laces, no insole, and we’ve printed our label to avoid using any extra fabric, without compromising on the design,” said the brand.
On the launch, Ecoalf admitted that their commitment is part of a long-term project called Upcycling the Oceans. It began in Alicante in 2015 and Ecoalf has managed to develop 250 fabrics made from ocean waste, including ground coffee, discarded fishing nets and used tyres. “The best thing to do is not to keep on using natural resources, but to make a new generation of recycled products, with the same quality and design as non-recycled,” said Goyeneche at Tech Open Air in Berlin last month.
The Shao sneakers are available in September 2018 and will form a part of Ecoalf’s new Ocean Waste footwear collection.