The 2019 ISPO Trade Fair held in Munich unveiled a variety of new, innovative products pertaining to sports around the globe. In fact, the event was so successful, the number of visitors was four times larger than expected with an estimated 80,000 guests in attendance.
Nothing stood out more, however, than the Sympatex "Shoe 4.0" revealed at the event.
Sympatex posited a potential answer to a long-pondered question: can we create an eco-friendly shoe? With the "closing the loop" prototype which has created the Shoe 4.0, Sympatex has outlined the creation of a water-proof, ecologically sound shoe within a closed loop system. All they need is a plastic shredder, an extruder, and a 3D printer to reduce the levels of plastic waste infringing on sensitive ecosystems.
But just how much plastic waste are we creating day in and day out? Sympatex partnered with Munich sports retailer, Globetrotter, to form a "plogging" event to demonstrate the extent of the problem. Plogging is the act of picking up waste products during a jog. The duo combined forces to establish a plogging event the day before the ISPO Trade Fair, where some of the plastic products collected during the plogging run would be used in Sympatex's demonstration.
The excessive plastic waste created by the shoe industry can be mitigated by such a product. The modular design allows the system to break down the plastics into raw materials which is then fed back into the machine to create waterproof, sustainable apparel.
"Each year, 23 billion pairs of shoes manufactured from new raw materials are thrown into the trash at the end of their life cycle, or in most cases incinerated in open fires, an extreme waste of resources that also pollutes the environment, and an absolutely irresponsible approach when one considers the more sustainable alternatives that could be implemented by the industry," claims Sympatex managing director, Dr. Rudiger Fox.
"With this new lighthouse project, we want to rouse the industry and spur our market partners into a creative dialogue and collaboration."
At the ISPO Trade Fair, the plogging plastics collected were able to create the body of the shoe atop a rubber Vibram sole. Vibram is an Italian company which also focuses on eco-friendly product creation and design to promote a more sustainable future. Their shoe soles incorporate more than 30% recycled materials.
The ISPO Trade Fair recognizes that consumers want eco-friendly options in clothing. The textile industry, as a whole, has found few ways to reduce plastic and textile waste. With the number of fashion consumers expected to grow to 1.2 billion by next year, it's more essential than ever that consumers have sustainable options to choose from.
The ISPO Trade Fair has become a hallmark for sustainability efforts in the sporting goods world. With Sympatex leading the charge on eco-friendly footwear, we can only hope more companies will rally behind their efforts for a more sustainable future.