Photo: Gomavial

Dear Readers,

Month by month, our Weibold academy series dwells deeper into the world of tire recycling and highlights different sides of this business. In case you have missed our previous articles, you can find the links at the end of this post.

Recycled tires in footwear manufacturing

This issue of Weibold Academy is dedicated to companies around the world that use scrap tires to produce different kinds of footwear. Tire tread is a precious material with very high wear-resistant properties and footwear benefits a lot from inclusion of this material in shoe soles. Examples we cite below use, as a rule, whole tire tread to manufacture shoe soles, however inclusion of fine tire-derived rubber powder into a composite is also used in the industry.

Avarcas Trotamillas and Gomavial, Spain

Avarcas Trotamillas is a relatively new company. It was established in 2015, but has long family tradition in footwear manufacturing; the company claims that its founders and partners are part of the fifth generation in a family of shoemakers.

Christian Mesu who represents Trotamillas asserts the company is one of the few footwear manufacturers that uses original and non-processed tire treads for shoe soles – says that Avarca’s sandals would lose their face if there were no tire rubber. He explains that till 1950s footwear industry used original tire treads. Later on, steel wire was introduced into tires and that was the reason why the whole footwear industry switched away from the material.

Gomavial’s shoes and tire treads used in footwear outsoles

Avarcas Trotamillas is located on Menorca, one of the Balearic Islands, that is home to some of the major Spanish footwear manufacturers. It is also a residence of Avarcas Menorquinas, traditional Spanish leather sandals. And what makes these sandals purely authentic are their soles made from end-of-life tire treads.

In addition, the company collaborates with a Spanish tire recycler Gomavial Solutions who supplies tire tread to the shoe manufacturer. Gomavial’s plant is in the north of Spain, in the outskirts of San Sebastian. The process of tire tread removal takes place here and after that the product is shipped to Menorca where it is cut according to appropriate size. The island has been hosting key footwear producers of Spain. Ferron shared that in 2016 they solely provided 2 tons, but in 2017 they aim to ship 10 tons. Furthermore, the company recently launched its own flip-flop brand.

More details on Avarcas and scrap tires in footwear manufacturing in Spain is available here.

Brave Soles, Canada & Dominican Republic

Toronto-based unique entrepreneurial project Brave Soles is a part of Social Ventures Zone at Ryerson University; it produces 100 % handmade leather shoes and accessories. Soles of the shoes are made exclusively from used and scrap tires.

Brave Soles sandals

The company produces its shoes in Dominican Republic. According to the founder Christal Earle, Brave Soles is not only a profit-oriented business, but an enterprise aiming to make a social impact. As of today, the young company has created jobs for 20 people working between Toronto and Dominican Republic. By providing employment in Dominican Republic, Brave Soles has already contributed to certain improvements in the lives of their workers – they now earn enough to get medical assistance, let their children have access to education and make changes in their future life plans. The foundation also assists future micro entrepreneurs in co-creation of projects fighting exploitation and poverty.

Brave Soles is now searching for potential partners within shoe industry and Toronto-based businesspersons working in sustainable fashion, who could use the company’s hand-cut soles in their designs. And the company is still challenged with navigation through the retail realm.

The company is also working hard on development of the brand recognition to help Brave Soles expand globally and integrate the processes applied in Dominican Republic in various communities all over the world.

More information about Brave Soles is available here.

Xinca, Argentina

Aiming to contribute to environment and show example of how precious rubber materials can be reused in consumer goods, Alejandro Malgor, Ezequiel Gatti and Nazareno El Hom launched a company called Xinca, which uses scrap tires to produce shoes.

In addition, the businessmen are mightily concerned with tackling the issue of unemployment and therefore they specifically target single mothers, dwelling in Mendoza, and create jobs for them. Production mainly takes place in rural areas, and 25 local women are already employed by Xinca.

Malgor said that his business creates social and economic opportunities for women, which will allow them to improve the quality of life for their kids. Since 2013, 20,000 kilograms of scrap tire material have been recycled into shoes by Xinca. Tires were provided to the shoe manufacturer by a tire recycling plant in Buenos Aires.

Apart from recycling, Malgor and his partners collect textile scraps from the fashion industry – the entrepreneurs have built solid partnerships with companies that donate the reusable fabric.

The shoe making process begins at the tire recycling plant – the metals bead is separated from rubber first. Afterwards, the shoe soles are cut right from the tire tread. The rest is made from the fabric provided by the fashion industry. 1,500 pairs of shoes are made by the company every month.

Xinca’s products can be purchased online, or via the ethical clothing company, Patagonia. Apart from shoes, Xinca’s products now include backpacks and caps. The goods can be purchased online as well as through the ethical clothing giant Patagonia. The shoe manufacturer is hoping to use the money it won in a 2017 competition, The Chivas Venture, to expand to Australia, Chile and Uruguay.

Argentinian law requires companies to provide their employees with new shoes every six months, and Xinca recently signed a contract with the municipality of Quilmes to be the official supplier. The company also has a partnership with Boca Juniors, so that for every pair of shoes sold, one is donated to a kid from a low-income community.

To learn about the social impact of this business, find more information here.

Timberland, United States

Global lifestyle brand Timberland and tire manufacturer and distributor Omni United have been collaborating to design a co-branded line of tires under the Timberland and Radar Tires brands. Timberland Tires are the first tires ever purposely designed to be recycled into footwear outsoles after their journey on the road is complete. By being the first of their kind and setting new standards for sustainable innovation in the tire industry, Timberland Tires are designed for “a new generation of drivers looking for performance, style and sustainability”.

Photo: Timberland

As respected innovators in their fields, Timberland and Omni United envisioned and brought to life a partnership whereby they are creating a more sustainable lifecycle for rubber. “Our partnership with Omni United marks a new day for the tire and footwear industries,” said Stewart Whitney, president of Timberland. “An outdoor lifestyle brand and an automotive industry leader may, at first blush, seem unlikely partners – yet our shared values have given birth to tires that express a lifestyle, deliver performance and safety, and prove that sustainability can be so much more than a theory. It’s this kind of cross-industry collaboration that’s fuelling real change and innovation in the marketplace.”

Timberland Tires represent a new model in tire innovation: a sustainable, tire-to-shoe lifecycle. Positioned at the premium end of the market, Timberland Tires are designed and created for superior performance and safety on the road. The tires are produced in the U.S. (using both domestic and imported materials) and feature a rubber formulation that is appropriate for the recycling of the tires at the end of their useful life into Timberland® shoes, rather than alternatives such as being used for tire-derived fuel or ending up in landfills.

As a recognition of meaningful work, Omni United’s Timberland Tires brand was awarded the WGSN Futures Award in the category of Sustainable Design in 2016.

Details on Timberland’s partnership with Omni United and key steps of both companies in implementing circular economy concept can be found here.

Good benchmark: Nike Grind

Another example of a promising game-changer, but not yet a tire-to-shoesole recycling is Nike Grind program. Nike Grind is one of the early examples of a truly cohesive established recycling system. Started in 1993, the program was created to “eliminate waste and close the loop on Nike’s product lifecycle“. Using a ‘slice-and-grind’ technique, recycled Nike shoes are cut into three distinct pieces according to material (rubber outsole, foam midsole, fiber upper) and then finally ground into fine material to create synthetic turf for soccer fields, tennis courts, etc.

Even though the company doesn’t yet reuse material to produce new shoes, the program can be later expanded with inclusion of tire-derived rubber powder into recycled material to manufacture outsoles for new footwear.

Even though corporate business environment usually contradicts concept of sustainability and it becomes hard to implement it on the large-scale basis, companies should create environment-friendly products and establish recycling systems to reuse precious materials. Tire rubber is a valuable material which should and inevitably will be applied in shoe sole manufacturing. Today, there are mostly small businesses who lead this initiative and step by step they will make greater use tire rubber in footwear industry.

To find out more about tire recycling and applications for recycled tire rubber, send us your inquiry to robert@weibold.com. We will be happy to help you build a flourishing tire recycling and pyrolysis business!

Links to our previous articles:

  1. Welcome to weibold! Academy
  2. weibold! Academy: Recycled Rubber Output Spectrum and Rubber Granulates
  3. weibold! Academy: Rubber Granulates, Rubber Powder, Tire Derived Steel and Tire Derived Fiber
  4. weibold! Academy: Tyre Recycling Value Chain
  5. weibold! Academy: Applications for Tyre Recycling Plant Output
  6. weibold! Academy: Rubber Granulate Applications
  7. weibold! Academy: Rubber Powder Applications – Rubber Industry
  8. weibold! Academy: Rubber Powder Applications – Surface Coatings
  9. weibold! Academy: Success Factors in the Tire Recycling Industry
  10. weibold! Academy: Understanding Tire Recycling Technology
  11. weibold! Academy: Total Quality Management in Tire Recycling
  12. weibold! Academy: Applications for Fibers from End-of-Life Tires
  13. weibold! Academy: Safety and health effects of crumb rubber infill in artificial turf
  14. weibold! Academy: Tire pyrolysis – products and applications
  15. weibold! Academy: Tire-derived fuel in cement production
  16. weibold! Academy: How to improve tire collection in small cities
  17. weibold! Academy: How to prevent tire fires
  18. weibold! Academy: Recycled tires in railroad construction
  19. weibold! Academy: Basics about tire-derived fuel
  20. weibold! Academy: Waste tires in civil engineering
  21. weibold! Academy: How to create your own sandals from used tires
  22. Weibold Academy: Sustainable rubber powder composites
  23. Weibold Academy: How recycled tires enhance safety of children on playgrounds