Over 300 million tonnes of plastic is produced every year, with only 9% of it ever being recycled. According to a report on Business Wire, the global 3D-printed footwear market is expected to post a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) close to 19% during the period 2019-2023, according to the latest market research report by Technavio.
The reality is that every single piece of plastic ever made still exists. There’s only one solution — stop creating plastic and instead use what’s already here. Ultimately, the plastic problem is huge, but so is the positive impact we can make.
After two years of research, Oliver Cabell is launching Phoenix, a 3D printed sneaker made of recycled bottles, to tackle this growing problem. “Our mission has always been fairly simple,” Scott Gabrielson, founder of Oliver Cabell, explains. “To marry the finest design, materials, and process with the latest technology, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses. We feel that the Phoenix is the culmination of what we’ve been striving for since we launched.”
The process starts with recycled bottles that are sterilized, washed, and cut into flakes which are then spun into a fibre. That single piece of fused yarn then goes into a 3D knitting machine which prints the material to shape inside the machine and comes out fully formed. Over seven recycled bottles are used to make one pair. “This process results in 80% less waste and a seamless upper with no cutting, stitching or discomfort”, explains Gabrielson. It also allows for the shoes to be completely machine washable.
“While we wanted sustainability to be at the heart of the Phoenix, we knew none of it mattered if the shoes weren’t incredibly lightweight and comfortable. We couldn’t have it feel like you were wearing plastic.” Scott explains “It took 48 samples to get it right. We needed to find the perfect balance of softness, stretch, and structure. The shoes are designed to be worn sockless, and includes an antibacterial lining that is moisture-wicking and silky-soft.”
The Phoenix comes in two colourways, black and white. The shoes cost $95 and are available exclusively at olivercabell.com.Let’s hope that rather than seeing companies such as Mcdonald’s making non-recyclable paper straws, we continue to see more 3D printed sustainable innovation.
My fingers (and straws) are crossed.