A university graduate has created a range of cool new trainers in his bedroom – using recycled motorsport tires.
Alex Witty’s ‘Compound Footwear‘ sneakers use waste racing tires, eco-leather and recycled materials to make sustainable shoes.
Alex, 25, from Bath, Somerset, created the footwear in his bedroom – which he turned into a workshop.
He came up with the idea while studying Sustainable Product Design at the University of Brighton in 2020.
He said: “As the university facilities were closed due to COVID, it forced me to convert my bedroom into a workshop, where I was recycling materials such as coffee and ocean plastic in rows of panini presses and melting seaweed polymers in the student kitchen.
“It was during this time that the Australian Grand Prix was canceled and I heard that 1,800 brand-new tires were scrapped and shipped back to the UK to be incinerated.
”I was shocked to find out that most motorsport tires are burnt after each race and felt that surely I could find a better use for them.
“Over the past two years, I’ve engaged with tire manufacturers, shoe producers, material scientists and race series organizers, including Formula 1 and Formula E.
”I’ve done extensive research and testing of tire recycling methods, delved into de vulcanization, micronization and cryogenic grinding, and explored other motorsport waste materials, such as scrap carbon fiber, race suits and motorsport clothing, where 25% of source materials typically go to waste as factory off-cuts.
“Our motorsport-inspired sneakers are made using a patented process to combine used race tire rubber with recycled natural rubber to create the shoe soles.
”The uppers are made from waste leather and recycled polyester lining and laces.
”At the end of their natural life, Compound Footwear sneakers can be recycled into 100% reusable raw materials to make new shoes and products.
“Our objective is to avoid the use of virgin fossil fuels, reduce the number of different materials that make most sneakers un-recyclable, and incorporate sustainable, recycled materials that not only reduce environmental impact but are also an attractive step towards a cleaner, greener future.
“My sneaker journey has so far taken me to Bahrain, Italy, Spain, Germany and Portugal for shoe-making courses, meetings and collaboration talks with world-leading industry experts.
”I’ve also investigated polyester recycling techniques to create new yarns from waste motorsport clothing to create knitted sneaker uppers, a process that’s still in development.”
Compound Footwear’s launch coincides with a growing sustainability push in the tyre and motorsport industries, particularly Formula 1, which has committed to achieving Net Zero Carbon status by 2030.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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