After three years of research and development, the French outdoor brand Salomon has presented the recyclable Index.01 running shoe, which will be on the market from February 2021.

“To create the Index.01, we had to construct a shoe using only two materials that could later be separated and recycled,” explained Olivier Mouzin, the manager of Salomon’s footwear sustainability program.

The company used recycled polyester to create the shoe’s upper, while a nitrogen-infused thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) based foam called Infiniride was employed for the bottom unit.

Both parts of the sneaker can be recycled. To make it possible, the thread used to stitch together the upper and bottom unit is also made of polyester, allowing it to be part of the recycled upper materials. A water-based glue is used to connect the bottom unit and the upper in order to minimize material contamination, according to Salomon.

Once separated, the two pieces will be ground down separately into tiny pellets. The materials of the bottom unit that are recycled in Europe will be combined with virgin TPU to make Salomon alpine ski boots in Europe for the 2022 winter range. Elsewhere, they will be used to create other products. The polyester upper will also be ground down and then turned into yarn.

To minimize transportation, the shoes will be received at collection centers located in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific. There, they will be washed and disassembled before each material is recycled. The recycling partners and specific second-life use of the materials in each region are currently being finalized.

Salomon can recycle TPU in Europe and in partnership with its factories in Asia, but it still needs to find solutions for the polyester elements and for the TPU originating from North America.

To recycle the shoes, Index.01 owners will be able to visit and print a shipping label to send the shoes to the closest collection center free of charge. More details will be available on the site as the shoe nears its availability date.

To lessen the material waste, there will be no stuffing paper used inside the shoes and no extra hangtags, the company stressed. From the spring 2021 season, all Salomon footwear will use Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified packaging.

”We see more and more shoe start-ups offering a shoe return in order to recycle the material. I hope we will see more of such initiatives even from big brands because only the brands that make the product know what’s in it,” Mouzin said.