Sorting and recycling clothes to give them a second life is not easy, but it is being done. A company like Patatam, which has now become Rediv, is a perfect example. But what about shoes? The stakes are high and, even if the difficulties are too, Cetia intends to take up the challenge. And it’s in the Landes, near Bidart, very close to Rediv’s premises, that this is happening, via a program called Reshoes.
“Footwear is, until now, the poor relation of recycling in Europe, because the technical barriers are very complex to overcome,” explains Chloé Salmon Legagneur, the director of Cetia. First of all, there is not only one kind of shoe, but many, depending on whether you are dealing with a sneaker or a derby for example. Then, the materials are not the same. The same goes for the structure, for the little sides, the rivets, the laces, the seams, etc. If we want to do something economically viable in sorting operations, we need to be able to go fast and process a lot of volumes quickly. So we need to industrialize the processes. So automate, as much as possible.
Automating sorting operations
“In our jargon, we talk about irritants, all those little things that make a garment, a fashion accessory like a bag, or shoes more or less complex. We have to find the right programming to find the right cuts, the cleanest cuts with the least amount of waste,” says Chloé Salmon Legagneur. Applied to shoes, this means, for example, knowing where the shoe ends and the sole begins. “We are lifting the technological barriers one by one,” says the director of Cetia, referring to the precision work involved.
This work is all the more important because it provides a new solution. In France, some 224 million pairs of shoes are put on the market every year. They live their good life, on the feet of their users, but when the time comes to part with them, they end up in their immense majority stupidly crushed, for lack of these advanced technologies which would allow to extract the soles from the rest of the shoe. From March 2023, Cetia will be able to remedy the problem. By that time, 1,000 shoes and soles will be treated each day on the operational pilot developed by Cetia.
➔ Read the full article (in French) on LSA