Applaud Invention of Shoe Recycling Machine

Shoes Image

Target: Loughborough University Innovative Manufacturing and Construction Research Centre, UK

Goal: Applaud invention of an incredible machine which recycles and reuses whole shoes

The Innovative Manufacturing and Construction Research Centre (IMCRC) of the UK’s Loughborough University announced their latest program: a machine that recycles entire shoes. Their team has committed ten long years of studies and prototypes to create a way to reuse the materials from everyday shoes. This really is an incredible discovery, as nearly 95% of the 20 billion shoes produced annually end up in landfills across the world. Praise the university’s IMCRC for their years of dedication and hard work which have resulted in enormous environmental benefits.

Previously, shoes were relatively impossible to recycle because they are made of up to 40 different types of materials. Recycling machines operate by separating types of products; for example, different glass materials are sorted into bins which are then melted down and used to recreate those same glass materials. Clearly this system could not work for shoes in any way, until Loughborough University’s IMCRC tested the “world’s first comprehensive system for separating and recovering useful materials from old footwear.”

Here is how it works: first, the shoes are sorted by type (boots, heels, sneakers, etc.). Next, any metal components–buckles, studs, zippers–are removed by hand. The shoe materials are then shredded into 4 millimeter fragments which shuffle through a machine that separates them based on weight. Heavier materials like rubber end up in one pile while lighter materials like cloth are separated into a different section. Now, with the shoes separated into individual materials, the recycling process can continue.

The environmental benefits of this process are huge. Loughborough University IMCRC’s creation will help divert the nearly 19 billion shoes per year that previously went straight into the landfills. Their research and commitment to finding a more sustainable solution over the past ten years is highly commendable, as their machine is the first to be able to recycle and reuse entire shoes.


Dear Loughborough University Innovative Manufacturing and Construction Research Centre,

It recently came to my attention that your team has created a machine that can recycle entire shoes. Given your years of hard work, this is quite an achievement, as well as a big step towards making the shoe industry much more environmentally friendly. Thank you for your invention.

Nearly 95% of the 20 billion shoes produced annually go straight to the landfill, creating immense amounts of unnecessary waste. However, with the invention of your machine, that is no longer the case. Now there is a way to break shoes back down into their individual materials and recycle those pieces.

I applaud you for your ingenuity and passion for the environment. Thank you for making our existence more sustainable for all.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Brooke Fishwick via Wikimedia

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