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Footwear Recycling Project: Full Circularity Enabled by Materials Solutions

2024-04-10

Initiation & Drive: Forward-thinking sustainable products for a greener future


LCY's Full Footwear Recycling Project is a pinnacle and groundbreaking achievement within our ESG initiatives. Responding to our customer's collaboration request, LCY is embracing the challenge to create innovative elastomer materials that address new requirements for elasticity, durability, and recyclability in athletic footwear in the ever-evolving sports industry.


For LCY's technical services team, the collaboration request is a forward-thinking challenge that aligns with LCY's ESG philosophy. As a result, the team initiated cross-departmental discussions to explore new solutions.


The biggest challenge in footwear recycling is the variety of materials used in shoes. Traditional recycling methods often involve disassembling the various components of the shoe, including metal parts, soles, plastics, fabric/leather, etc. Careful disassembly is required to improve recycling results. This separation process is difficult because the components are tightly bonded, resulting in inefficient disassembly and the possibility of material mixing.


The difficulty of recycling and the limited effectiveness of post-recycling utilization are issues the team is trying to solve.


The project's innovative breakthrough lies in our aim to recycle footwear without disassembly. This represents a market breakthrough that results in a win-win-win situation for LCY, the customers, and the environment. Most importantly, the project fully embodies LCY's commitment to sustainability.


The project underwent intensive discussion and research as a result. The project is driven by two main pillars: the development of material solutions for "full footwear recycling" and the creation of "materials that can be reused in durable products." These goals are the foundation of our overall planning, customer communications, market analysis, and research coordination. Additionally, project managers have collaborated with specialized teams to conduct experiments and the overall research execution.


Research & Challenges: Turning challenges into opportunities to create a positive outcome for all


During project implementation, the team actively participated in domestic and international rubber and plastics exhibitions and fairs, where the team observed a growing global demand for reducing carbon emissions from petrochemical products. Stakeholders, including the public sector, brands, and consumers, prioritize sustainability as a top concern, which has motivated LCY to accelerate our efforts.


For LCY, achieving our goals requires breaking the technical boundaries of existing materials as well as finding industry partners to create an entirely new recycling system. This involves the creation of an ecological recycling chain from upstream to downstream, requiring the collective efforts and cooperation of numerous partners and the general public to ensure smooth operation throughout the recycling process.


In addition, the performance requirements for material solutions in footwear are stringent. From the early stages of development, the LCY team made significant investments in raw materials and research personnel. To ensure consistency with the customer's test results, we harmonized test methods and helped the team make real-time adjustments to achieve materials that meet customer requirements for slip resistance, abrasion resistance, and resilience. We also assisted in the testing of heterogeneous materials.


Impact & Highlight: Full circularity enabled by materials solutions 


LCY's athletic equipment partners have made significant strides in various sports to facilitate the conversion of recycled materials into different products. These manufacturers are not solely focused on establishing recycling projects for individual products; rather, they are pioneering a circular economy model for the reutilization of recycled materials.


LCY's materials solution helps our customers achieve the concept of recycling compatible materials, which significantly increases the feasibility of recycling while simplifying the existing recycling process. This allows the recycled materials to be re-manufactured into other sporting goods.


The project is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by over 50%. This projected outcome not only significantly reduces environmental impact, but also reinforces LCY's commitment to sustainability. Additionally, the project maintains product performance while integrates the processing of recycled materials into the product lifecycle, creating a strong foundation for sustainable consumer products.


Vision & Future: Leader in green technology


The Footwear Recycling Project marks a successful step for LCY towards a green and sustainable future. LCY has actively adopted ISO standards to scientifically quantify the environmental benefits of fully recycled products. In addition, LCY has implemented globally recognized certification standards, such as the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC), to ensure that raw material management and factory processes meet international standards.


Going forward, LCY remains committed to investing in advanced research and high-quality production and strives to drive more innovative materials initiatives to address climate challenges. Our vision is to be a leader in green technology, continuously innovating to contribute to the sustainable development of society and the environment. This embodies the realization and affirmation of LCY's values and represents our commitment to sustainable development.