JALAS and Rester Oy recycle safety shoes into textile fiber
The recycling industry has long tried to solve the problem of recycling textile waste back into fibers. Now the safety footwear brand JALAS has managed to recycle the uppers of safety shoes back into usable textile fiber. This is a unique development in sustainable innovation.
The recycling trial was done in cooperation with Rester Oy, a Finnish company providing textile recycling solutions. In Rester’s own facility, the discarded textiles are converted back into textile fiber — i.e., the raw material for new textile products — using a mechanical process.
Rester eagerly joined the pilot experiment despite its challenges: the construction and textiles used in safety footwear make them difficult to recycle — and there was no industry precedent in Finland for doing so.
The challenges with recycling safety shoes
For everyday (non-safety) footwear, there are many options for extending a shoe’s life. Used shoes can be resold, they can be repaired, or they can be refurbished with new uppers or new soles.
For safety footwear, the possibilities are more limited because safety shoes are certified safety products. The user must change shoes regularly to prevent their safety features from degrading.
Some of the workers at Rester Oy were actually wearing Exalter shoes. It was the first time they were recycling something that they were wearing.