End-of-life Management of Shoes



Approximately 40 different materials can be used in the manufacturing of a shoe. To meet the needs of customers and be competitive, footwear companies must face two key challenges: being quick to market changes and stay relevant in order to identify or establish new consumer trends. This leads to a shorter life cycle of shoes, and an even increasingly shorter product development cycle for the footwear industry. A shorter life cycle of shoes means that more shoes have been produced over the years, so leading to a higher level of EoL waste by the footwear industry. From 1990 to 2004, worldwide footwear production has increased by 70% to around 17 billion pairs of shoes while by 2010 experts in the sector expect the global footwear output to reach 20 billion pairs [4]. Shoe production and consumption is definitely rising. Western Europe and United States consume 2 billion pairs of shoes every year [4]. In the UK alone, more than 330 million pairs of shoes, with a total market value of more than £5 billion are consumed every year [5].

However, the major environmental challenge that footwear industry is currently facing, is the enormous amount of waste generated at the end-of-life phase. Some 12 billions pairs of shoes produced worldwide every year, with most of them being disposed in landfills. Landfill sites can result in serious environmental pollution of groundwater and rivers, due to landfill leachate. Landfill space is also becoming extremely limited, especially in some European countries where available landfill space is non-existent. Finally, forthcoming product-related environmental legislation is expected to change the approach of the footwear industry regarding its EoL waste.

Analysis: This article outlines the challenges faced by footwear companies when discarding old shoes. It also outlines the different programs trying to reduce the amount of waste generated from the footwear industry. This article was helpful in outlining the many different ways to discard of your shoes by introducing many businesses that are working to reuse and recycle old shoes so they don’t end up in landfills.