Enabling the footwear industry to increase the use of sustainable materials and processes via an innovative digital tool
Politecnico Calzaturiero is the training, services and technology transfer structure of the Footwear District of Riviera del Brenta, which has more than 500 companies and employs more than 10,000 people.
European legislation is becoming more stringent in terms of sustainability and circular economy,
especially for the fashion sector, which includes the footwear industry. The sustainable approach can be taken in several areas, such as environment, human rights, labour practices, traceability, etc., but the focus is increasingly on the use of sustainable materials, both indigenous and recycled or reused as such. The problems arise from: A) lack of knowledge of sustainable and recycled/recyclable materials on the market, B) in the case of knowledge of materials, there is a lack of knowledge of the relative components of footwear made from these materials and the relative technical characteristics (including legal) and their impact (if any) on the LCA of the product, C) there is little knowledge of the suppliers of these materials and the corresponding certifications, recognitions, etc, D) there is no “single” and structured place to find the list of components of a shoe, both classic and sporty, the corresponding materials available on the market with their own technical characteristics and legal standards, as well as the corresponding sustainable “substitutes” E) there is no digital approach to manage this, where innovative systems such as AI or virtual rendering of the material (for use in design and development) could be inserted.
We are looking for a solution that:
- Involves setting up an innovative digital library tool with all the existing footwear materials. The main goal is to organize the library in such a way that it can be used directly by company employees in their daily work, in order to promote wide adoption.
- Is structured according to a logic for shoes: through different filters for the type of product, the type of components and processes involved, the type of material required, etc.
- Integrates technical data, performance data, and data on the impact of each material (e.g., opportunities for material recycling, impact on the life cycle assessment of the product, virtual representation of the material, etc.).
- Ideally refers to existing sustainable materials that can replace standards.
- Leads to greater knowledge of sustainable and recyclable/recycled materials for the footwear industry.
- Possibly enables sharing among companies, suppliers, material experts, test consultancies, etc.
- Allows for possible expansion in the future to all other fashion sectors (textiles, apparel, knitwear, eyewear, etc.).