In the fight to recycle used clothing and accessories, footwear has long been an obstacle in the process. Of the 20 billion shoes that are produced each year, a whopping 95% end up in a landfill. But now, a recently developed recycling process looks set to revolutionize the footwear recycling world. This system is to separate the upper material from the rubber and transform it all into tiny granules, which means that your old smelly sneakers could become part of a new one. Report by Indumentaria Online (in Spanish)
The process of separating the elements that make up a shoe is overly complex due to the infinity of materials of which it is composed. A single shoe or sneaker can contain up to 40 different types of materials, among them we can find: rubber, plastic, leather, metal, not to mention the glue that so often holds them together.
Scientists at the University of Loughborough in the Research Center Building (IMRC), have created a system to recycle shoes, separating the components resulting from the investigation process for ten years, and funded by the Research Council of Physical Sciences ( ESPRC) .
Professor Shahin Rahimifard , project manager, explains that the process of separating materials. Initially, a manual process of separation of materials such as laces, buttons and buttonholes is carried out. In a second process, the shoes are crushed automatically, being reduced to small granules of 3 to 4mm, which through a low-cost system, blowing air, first removes the textile particles such as leather, which is separated from the rest, After several sieves, the separation is carried out into four main residues: leather, foams, rubber and other materials.
Translated from original by Richard Smith