When a new running shoe from the French company Salomon wears out, every single part of it can be reused: The shoe’s upper, itself made from recycled polyester, can be recycled again into new thread for fabric. The foam sole can be ground up and used in the brand’s ski boots. Nothing goes to landfill.
Eventually, all of the company’s products will be circular. “That is the ultimate goal, and these principals will influence our product development in the future,” says Olivier Mouzin, the manager of Salomon’s footwear sustainability program. That will involve both innovations in design and convincing consumers to change behavior. “When it comes to footwear, people aren’t used to recycling their shoes like they would a milk carton or a can of soda, so you need to make it easy for them,” he says. “So, there is the challenge of creating the infrastructure needed to recycle the products. We are excited about this big step, but it will take partnerships with companies who are experts in gathering and recycling materials, and perhaps even working with some of our competitors, to really transform the industry.”