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‘An Avarca without a tyre tread sole is not a real Avarca’

Spain – Avarcas Menorquinas is the name given to a traditional Spanish leather sandal made on Menorca, one of the Balearic Islands and home to major Spanish footwear manufacturers. One of the components that gives the sandal its authenticity is its sole made from the rubber tread of an end-of-life tyre.

‘An Avarca without the original tyre tread sole is not a real Avarca,’ says Dutchman Christian Mesu of major local shoe brand Trotamillas, a company that claims to be the only shoe manufacturer using rubber from tyres and leaving the tread intact. ‘Until the 1950s, all shoe producers used original tyre tread,’ Mesu explains. ‘But then steel was introduced in tyre manufacturing, and the shoe industry slowly but surely switched to using molten rubber.’

Trotamillas decided to revive the traditional approach when tyre recycler Gomavial Solutions, based on the Spanish mainland, introduced a technology capable of deconstructing a tyre and separating its layers. Instead of pulverising the tyre and separating the rubber from the metal and fibre, the company respects a tyre’s structure so as to safeguard all of its mechanical properties when using them in new applications. The tread cut from a tyre can be reused as the sole of a newly-fabricated shoe.

At Gomavial’s production facility near the northern Spanish city of San Sebastián, tyre treads are removed and then shipped to Menorca where they are cut to size and incorporated into new shoes. ‘We have started with small volumes (2 tonnes in 2016) and expect to ship 10 tonnes in 2017,’ confirms Gomavial’s Pablo Ferrón.

More on Gomavial’s tyre recycling efforts in the 3/2017 issue of Recycling International.

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