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PET bottles find new role in running shoes

United States – US athletics footwear manufacturer New Balance (NB) describes its NewSKY shoe, comprising 95% recycled PET bottles, as ‘€˜a different way to think about footwear’€™. The company was looking to make a more sustainable product, and its designers have used the distinctive qualities of the recycled fabric to eliminate many traditional components made of virgin materials.

‘€˜The principles of shoemaking didn’t necessarily apply to this fabric. Normally, you would need foam, a reinforcer, another reinforcer and an external material. A lot of stuff goes in there and we stripped all that out,’€™ explained Drew Spieth, Design Lead for NB’€™s Wellness range.

Instead the company opted for what it labels ‘€˜eco-fi’€™ (eco-fabric) polyester, with the upper part of the shoe using material derived from eight PET bottles. The so-called ‘€˜fashion-forward’€™ design uses 73% less upper materials than traditional running shoes.

‘€˜Aside from the foam, the little rubber components on the outsole and a little water-based glue, the only material used here is the recycled fabric,’€™ Mr Spieth said. Chemically and functionally speaking, eco-fi has similar properties to fabric made from virgin materials, which has made it a common choice for car interiors and carpets. Other technical characteristics, such as strength, comfort and breathability, make it an ‘€˜ideal candidate for footwear ‘€“ this lets your feet do well by doing good,’€™ NB claims.

For more information, visit: www.newbalance.com

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