Two German companies, Soex and I:Collect, have announced the development of a breakthrough recycling system for all types of footwear. Soex, which specializes in used textile trading and recycling, receives tens of thousands of used shoes every day. Around 83 percent of these shoes are still be in good condition and are distributed and sold as second-hand products. The remaining 17 percent are no longer fit for use. Until now, the complex construction of footwear made it difficult to develop a system able to recycle unwearable footwear of all types on an industrial scale. The new, scalable system works by mechanically disassembling used shoes into their component parts, from which it collects “usable secondary raw materials,” including leather, rubber and foam. A shredder cuts up the shoes, then a metal separator extracts ferrous metals, if any, and a delamination mill breaks up composite materials, before an air separator filters the material into leather, rubber and foam, from which to make a new product. The new system builds on work carried out since 2012 by the Centre of Sustainable Manufacturing & Recycling Technologies (SMART) at the University of Loughborough, the French Environment & Energy Management Agency (ADEME), the French agency Agence Innovation Responsable (AIR), the French company Eco TLC, and the British footwear recycling specialist In-Cycle.