Vienna-based footwear startup Effekt Footwear has made a trainer from recycled materials, including ocean plastic.
“We wanted to make a sneaker that set the bar for sustainability and would create a positive impact for the planet,” said Effekt Footwear founder Ben Smits.
The trainer is named after the medieval practice of attempting to turn scrap metal into gold.
“Just as the medieval chemist was trying to turn base metals into gold, we’re using ‘21st-century alchemy‘ to turn trash into trainers,” said Smits.
“We wish to create value from cleaning up our planet, create a business case for upcycling and help re-frame people’s perception of waste materials.”
Effekt Footwear’s low rise trainer comes in a paired-back design featuring a recycled upper lining made out of reclaimed ocean plastic and recycled textiles.
Textile scraps, off cuts and other scrap materials from the Portuguese textile industry, are recovered before being sent to landfill. Materials such as cotton are then broken down and spun back into new yarn for the trainers.
The company’s European supplier gathers material from a number of sources including fisherman and beach clean-up initiatives along the Mediterranean Sea.
Plastic from the ocean floor, floating on the ocean surface as well as from rivers, estuaries and aquatic environments that lead to the ocean is collected to make the shoes.
The material is then coloured with ecological dyes and finished by hand in a family-owned workshop in Portugal.
The sole is comprised of at least 70 per cent rubber waste that was destined to end up in landfill. A small percentage of it is made from new rubber to ensure the soles are durable and long-lasting. Organic cotton in the stitching, embroidery and woven tag is the only other new material used.
According to Smits, the result is “a sneaker that contains 90 per cent recycled material and can be easily recycled at its end of life.”
While the entire insole is biodegradable, the rest of the shoe is “designed for easy recycling with suppliers”. Customers can participate in the Effekt Collekt program whereby their trainers will be taken back and recycled by Effekt after wear.