Nick Thorpe, Safety Footwear Product Specialist for the Hultafors Group UK writes:
Just as the effects of plastic waste on the environment has been brought to the centre of consumer consciousness in recent years, so the problems caused by the disposal of shoes and clothing are also coming to the fore.
Images of ‘ragpickers’ on our waste clothing mountains in Africa are an increasing cause for concern as landfill sites become overwhelmed and we dispose of our waste on someone else’s doorstep.
It’s not just consumer waste that’s causing problems. Used clothing and footwear from corporate users also end up in landfill or on waste mountains overseas and therefore need to be disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner so that ‘footprints’ can be maintained at levels that benefit everyone, not just the environment.
That’s why the sourcing of sustainable and environmentally responsible safety footwear and workwear is becoming key parts of companies’ corporate sustainability policies. Added to which, without responsible management, pressure will grow on raw material sourcing, manufacturing costs will increase and working conditions will deteriorate.
Some working clothes and protective wear – such as some of the Snickers Workwear range – is now being manufactured from specialist textiles that feature recycled polyester. Snickers Workwear is also a member of The Better Cotton Initiative, the largest cotton sustainability programme in the world which aims to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it as well as for the environment it grows in. Going forward, Snickers Workwear has committed itself to sourcing 80% of its cotton fabrics as ‘more sustainable cotton’ by 2023, that is, cotton sourced through the Better Cotton Initiative, organic cotton or recycled cotton.
We’ve all seen how quickly clothing and footwear containers at waste disposal centres fill up almost as quickly as any other, which is why corporates not only have to source effectively but also ensure that footwear and garments are disposed of in an environmentally responsible way.
The Hultafors Group’s latest brand addition to its market-leading PPE portfolio – EMMA Safety Footwear – has the solution. It’s a policy of ‘100% Circularity’ in all its products. Every product in the EMMA range is made entirely from recycled or recyclable materials. It’s a 100% ‘circular’ manufacturing, usage and recycling process for every shoe and boot it produces.
Critically, it’s complimented by a service that takes back used shoes and boots for recycling when they’re replaced by new EMMA products, therefore enabling environmentally responsible companies and individuals to make a positive footprint in their workplaces.With a 90-year pedigree, EMMA Safety Footwear is a fully EU-accredited range of excellent value shoes and boots that satisfy a wide range of user needs and workplaces – including light and heavy industry, chemical and construction, facilities and logistics sectors plus office and retail environments.
Complementing the Solid Gear and Toe Guard range, EMMA safety footwear includes all the Hultafors Group hallmarks of hi-tech designs that combine top quality materials for ultimate comfort, maximum safety and wellbeing at work.
Continuous improvement in an ever-changing world.
As we’ve seen with the effects and consequences of the Covid-19 crisis, the PPE world is changing faster than ever, creating new demands on corporates and individuals when it comes to everyone’s safety, personal wellbeing and individual responsibility.
Having therefore made the conscious choice to make such a significant step forward in its corporate and product development philosophy four years ago, EMMA has now become the pioneer innovator in sustainable safety footwear. It’s a product range that doesn’t compromise on product quality, value for money and corporate social responsibility.
So, how does ‘100% Circularity’ in a safety shoe work? Take for example EMMA’s ‘Amazone’, the world’s first ever ‘100% Circular’ safety shoe which is typical of every other product in the range. Its design and development provide the guiding principles for the rest of the EMMA product range.
Whilst it’s principally designed for fully accredited for safety, comfort and wellbeing, its construction also ensures that it can be disassembled and recycled easily. The shoe is partly made from recycled materials. 70% of the insole is produced from PU foam filling from old car seats and furniture, while the laces are made of used and fully recycled PET plastic bottles.
However, with the fundamental philosophy of ‘safety first’ to the fore, ‘100% Circularity’ features are combined with ‘100% Safety and Comfort’ features such as the TPU Counter which prevents moisture penetration. Also, stitching is below the surface of the footwear, which means that it cannot be damaged by sharp and hard objects. The product remains intact for longer and dirt and moisture are unable to penetrate the surface.
Reverse logistics that make ‘Circularity’ work for you.
The Hultafors Group is working with its chain partners on an agreed basis to take care of the returns logistics to ensure that every used part of a shoe or boot can be put to good use and save you the problem of sustainable and environmentally responsible disposal:
- CUSTOMERS COLLECT USED EMMA SAFETY FOOTWEAR TO BE EXCHANGED FOR NEW EMMA PRODUCTS.
- COLLECTION OF GATHERED SHOES ON-SITE.
- TRANSPORT TO EMMA SAFETY FOOTWEAR FOR FURTHER PROCESSING.
- FOOTWEAR DISMANTLED, COMPONENTS RECYCLED AND REDISTRIBUTED AS RAW MATERIALS
Innovation That Never Stops
Every pair of EMMA safety shoes and boots is fitted with a unique QR code. This allows us to link each piece of footwear to the user, paving the way for new services and information flows to help improve our products and services.
When users scan the QR code with the special EMMA app they’ll see a ‘components passport’ with a summary of all materials that have been used in the product. All these materials have been chosen for their durability and environmental safety, with multiple life-cycle usability of each material and component already set out after the shoe or boot has completed its first life cycle.
That’s how the EMMA philosophy and safety and sustainability are combined, each aspect reinforcing each other very effectively in the continued search for better safety shoes.
Join us in taking a positive step forward
EMMA’s ‘100% Circular’ product range has been created by thinking about the future of the environment and corporate responsibility from a new perspective This safety footwear allows you, as the customer, to make some positive choices for people and the planet by creating a positive footprint in everything we do in the workplace.
EMMA Safety Footwear is one of the founders and driving forces behind ‘The Positive Footprint’ which is a group of like-minded organisations and individuals that encourage transparent production, a circular economy to make a positive impact on people and the planet. Read more about The Positive Footprint and join in on thepositivefootprint.com.