Just when you think trainers can’t get any better, Spanish label Ecoalf goes ahead and releases their new footwear collection, made from recycled waste found in our oceans and rivers.
For their new Shao sneakers, it takes five old plastic bottles sourced from the Mediterranean Sea to create each pair. The discarded plastic is processed into a yarn, which is used to create a black knitted upper sole that fits the wearer like a sock. The outer sole is made from a type of algae that grows in excess in lakes and rivers, which Ecoalf transforms into a flexible foam that permits easy movement, while benefiting the environment.
Image courtesy: Ecoalf
“Algae gives us the most flexible-performing foam,” said the brand. “Also, removing it allows clean water to circulate properly, supports plant and animal life, and eliminates the need for non-renewable oils.”
With a minimal, clean design, it also means the trainers can be mass-produced as efficiently as possible with these limited raw materials.
The brand explained that the process is zero-waste. “We only use two materials, and construct the upper sole in a way that reduces the number of steps in the supply chain to just one. There are no laces, no insole, and we’ve printed our label to avoid using any extra fabric, without compromising on the design.”
As part of a long-term project called Upcycling the Oceans, the label is working with fishermen along the coast of Spain to source the waste for all of its collections. The fishermen take rubbish caught in their nets to their local port for Ecoalf to collect and process. Once it has been thoroughly cleaned, the plastic is then broken down into smaller parts and reduced to polymer, with this raw material used by Ecoalf to create yarn for a range of different fabrics.
The programme began in Alicante in 2015 and is now underway in 52 ports, with over 3,000 fishermen involved and 250 tonnes of waste material already removed from the oceans. In 2017, Ecoalf extended the program to Thailand at the request of the Thai government.
Image courtesy: Ecoalf x RCDeportivo
To date, Ecoalf has developed 250 fabrics made from ocean waste, including ground coffee, discarded fishing nets and used tyres, and all products are made in Spain, including the collection for the soccer team Deportivo de la Coruña.
The Shao sneakers will launch in September 2018, as part of Ecoalf’s new Ocean Waste footwear collection.