EMMA Safety Footwear
Ever since its foundation in 1931, EMMA Safety Footwear has been creating positive social impact by opting for diversity and inclusivity in its organization. Currently, more than 100 people work at EMMA Safety Footwear with a distance to the labor market. EMMA Safety Footwear makes high-quality work shoes for every sector. Work shoes are used intensively and are replaced once a year for the toughest professions. This results in a large residual flow of shoes. That’s why EMMA developed the Amazon shoe; the first circular and fully recyclable work shoe.
Circular design strategy
The circular work shoe is designed for a long service life. For example, the leather heel has been replaced by the more durable TPU. For the rest of the exterior, EMMA chose oil nubic. This leather is fatter, which means that it remains flexible for longer and wears less quickly, even without maintenance. There are slots in the TPU heel where the stitching falls. This also means that they wear out less quickly. In addition, the top lace hook has been replaced by an eye, as it regularly broke.
In recent years, EMMA has mapped out all the materials in their products in detail. In all their shoes they replace the harmful and non-recyclable materials with sustainable and recyclable alternatives. Concessions have been made in the construction of the shoe on recyclability to guarantee safety and comfort. In the choice of material, the new applications in which the material is reused are already taken into account. The TPU can be used, for example, in insulating material. And they make press products from the leather. EMMA manually disassembles used shoes with a multi-tool and then separates them into mono streams.
Circular business model
Partner company COFA organizes the collection of the shoes. Normally dealers pay 0.40 €/kg for the disposal of work shoes. EMMA collects for free to get the return flow going. Recycling and collection is not yet profitable, but the project is still in the start-up phase. By finding high-quality new applications for their materials, EMMA hopes to eventually earn more from their residual flows. EMMA does not pass on the extra costs to its customers. They see it as an investment in the future and believe that customers no longer have to pay for sustainable products
Result & follow-up
For upscaling, the options for mechanical disassembly are being explored, for example through collaboration with partners. In addition, EMMA wants to take steps to increase support and awareness among dealers and users and to stimulate the return of shoes, for example by informing them about the environmental benefits by means of a materials passport.