10 Jun Material selection
How to apply circularity to the material selection process
The selection of circular materials for footwear manufacturing is one of the key factors in making the transition to sustainable production in the footwear sector.
These materials will not only affect the production process itself but will also have a direct impact on other critical areas:
- Product design (fast fashion vs slow fashion).
- The consumption of natural resources (raw materials, energy resources, etc).
- The recyclability or reusability of footwear at the end of its useful life.
- The local impact on the industrial and business fabric
For this reason the materials used by Reweart are consciously selected, that is, when choosing a material, Reweart takes into account the impact of its footprint on human health and the environment. All raw materials are vegan and recycled for the most part, and where virgin materials are used, they are sourced from organically grown crops.
Material selection and circular design
Circular design requires the choice of materials that facilitate reuse or recycling, and that means that every part of the footwear manufacturing process must be designed with this in mind.
Life Reweart has a filter of influence, in which it studies, analyses and chooses suppliers that develop materials based on the integral circular economy. This filter consists of diagnosing that the materials comply with the following requirements:
- Materials that are vegan, organic and recyclable in their composition.
- Guarantee the durability of the material in order to extend its useful life.
- Allow for recyclability at source, in your factory.
- Take into account the type of extraction and composition of the material or traceability and have certificates that endorse it.
- Co-create with local companies to generate a circular link
- Produce and manufacture locally
- Consider zero waste and energy sourcing
- Optimise packaging and transport
- Work to reduce carbon and water footprint
As can be seen, the selection ranges from the production processes themselves or the origin of the raw materials used, to the commitment of the project’s collaborating companies and suppliers to sustainability.
It also takes into account the functionality they will fulfill, according to their composition and subsequent reuse.
The circular design also involves the creation of business synergies, which allow the production (or reconversion) of the materials necessary for the manufacture of sustainable footwear, or the production of the innovations necessary to achieve it.
This fosters cooperation between companies, so necessary for the stability of the footwear sector (and in general, of any other business sector to which the circular economy is applied).
If we were to make a comparison of the life cycle of a conventional shoe to a LIFE Reweart shoe we could see that each material and component has been strategically replaced to achieve a more sustainable shoe, adding at the same time the return, reconditioning and recycling to the production process.
Impact on the selection of circular materials for footwear manufacturing
The use of circular materials presents unique advantages and is essential for the transition towards sustainable production in the footwear sector.
These advantages are not only limited to the obvious positive impact on the environment, but also benefit the business fabric as we will see below.
Reduced use of new raw materials
The use of recycled and recyclable materials significantly reduces the use and extraction of new raw materials. Through the application of circular design, a large part of the materials used can be reused again for the manufacture of new parts.
Reduce the use of natural resources
Reducing the use of raw materials means that the need for their production, use or cultivation is also reduced.
This has a direct impact, for example, on water consumption.
Both the process of cultivation and production of these materials, as well as the transformation and manufacturing process, consume large amounts of precious resources such as water, energy or land area dedicated to cultivation.
Thanks to a circular design, the different materials used in production can have a third, fourth or fifth life (maybe even more).
This means that much of the material used will return to the production process and not produce unnecessary waste.
The environmental impact of choosing circular materials is undeniable, both for the planet Earth and for the business fabric and the end-user.
Material selection criteria at Life ReWeart
At Life ReWeart there are 4 fundamental criteria for the selection of materials in sustainable footwear manufacturing:
All materials used during the manufacturing process must meet these requirements.
In addition to these criteria, there are two fundamental premises that must always be met:
- The materials must be free of chemicals
- They must be sustainably and ethically sourced.
The use of vegan materials guarantees that no animal has had to suffer in order to manufacture a pair of shoes. Our commitment to the planet does not end with protecting its forests or its precious natural resources: the protection of animals is also a pillar of the Life ReWeart project.
On the other hand, in the event that it is necessary to use certain raw materials that have not been recycled, this will always be done under two premises: respect for people and nature.
In this sense, at Life ReWeart we only work with organic raw materials from sustainable crops, free of chemical fertilisers and pesticides and which do not come from genetically modified seeds.
At Life ReWeart, we only work with partners who respect the rights of their employees.
In this way we avoid contributing to the exploitation of people or discrimination in any form.
Circular materials and changes in the footwear industry
At Life ReWeart we know first-hand that the design and choice of circular materials bring about effective change in the business fabric.
We have seen previously that it encourages the creation of business synergies.
These business synergies often produce the necessary advances (processes, materials, etc.) for this more sustainable footwear production, making partners active agents of change.
Moreover, it is essential for Life ReWeart that these partners are aligned with the project’s commitments to sustainability, respect for animals and workers’ rights.
Therefore, it also fosters a natural change in the mentality of these collaborators, producing a direct benefit for society.
As you will have seen, the choice of circular materials not only directly affects the footwear manufactured but also has a definite influence on areas such as the use of raw materials, the use or extraction of natural resources or the business fabric itself.