Life Cycle Assessment of different end-of-life scenarios for footwear

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Poster Number:  45 

Main Presenter:    Borja Mateu-Romero 

Co-Authors:   M. B. Almendro-Candel     I. Melendez-Pastor      J. Navarro-Pedreño      A. Pérez-Gimeno      F. Arán-Ais                        

The circular economy is an approach that seeks to maximise value and minimise waste in the use of resources, by creating a closed cycle of production and consumption. In some industrial sectors such as fashion and more specifically footwear, with an estimated production rate of 25.5 billion pairs by 2025 and a production model based on the linear economy, there is a loss of resources with high associated environmental impacts.

There are several principles that allow reducing the environmental impact during the product life cycle through strategies such as designing more durable and repairable products, recycling materials, reducing the need for virgin materials and minimising the amount of waste generated by footwear production, such as recycling tyres for soles or by implementing new business models based on the reuse or rental of footwear.

Therefore, to ensure that the deployment of such strategies will contribute to the circular economy of footwear, this paper focused on the assessment of the environmental performance of the different end-of-life scenarios of footwear, such as landfill, mechanical, chemical and biological recycling, as well as, ensuring that eco-design reduces the overall environmental impact of the product and facilitates the valorisation of footwear at the end of its useful life.

As a result, the footwear mechanical recycling is positioned as one of the best tools available with a lower environmental footprint for obtaining separated fractions of polymers, leather, metals and foams at a competitive environmental cost compared to landfill or incineration. But this requires a redesign of the product to make it optimal for this valorisation process and to obtain valid effluents to be reincorporated as raw material in the industry.

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