Germany’s Soex to recycle Mercedes-Benz shoes
With 25,000 tonnes of safety shoes destroyed every year, the Mercedes-Benz Group is now going to rely on the recycling tool developed by German manufacturer Soex to give a second life to its shoes. A pilot project was launched in May.
During a tour of its site in Wolfen (near Leipzig) in 2021, Soex explained that it was heavily relying on its ability to transform end-of-life shoes into new pairs. This will be achieved by means of a tool that transforms the crushed materials into new soles.
Soex could save some 25,000 pairs of shoes from going to waste. Mercedes-Benz will organise the collection of the shoes from its workers via six dedicated containers at its factory in Sindelfingen, near Stuttgart.
“At the time, recycling shoes was considered impossible”, recalls Soex, “More than 40 materials are generally so firmly stuck together in shoes that it is difficult to separate them. But the Soex Group has ensured that large quantities of leather and rubber no longer end up in the rubbish and, with the help of its British partner In-Cycle and the French eco-organisation ReFashion, has developed a plant specifically for this purpose.”
For Soex, Mercedes-Benz Group putting its trust in them could pave the way for a mass recycling of footwear, for the benefit of partner brands, retailers and groups. The specialist in the collection and exploitation of end-of-life clothing and footwear points out that 22 billion pairs of shoes are produced worldwide every year.
Soex is also continuing to develop automated sorting of end-of-life textiles with a view to recycling. The German company is one of six in Europe to offer such an automated sorting line, along with Cetia (France), Coleo Recycling (Spain), Salvation Army (UK), Sysav (Sweden) and Wieland Textiles (Netherlands).