Green shoes pact is a small step for Portuguese footwear industry

Green shoes pact: Small step for the footwear industry, a big step for sustainability

Portugal is the third largest footwear producer in Europe, after Italy and Spain, and more than 90% of their production is exported. The country’s footwear industry is now turning its attention to sustainability and the reduction of its environmental footprint. Green shoes are the newest fashion.

The Portuguese Footwear Association has spearheaded a green initiative called the “shoes green pact,” which was signed by 120 companies in the industry. The goal of the pact is to reduce emissions by half by 2030. The companies agreed to 10 commitments, including energy efficiency, product design, and packaging, and will be audited independently.

Recycling: Green shoes for a green future

One company that has embraced sustainability is Bolflex, which recycles rubber waste from its soles. The process saves the company around 1 million euros ($1.05 million) a year. The worn-out shoes are fed into machines. Then they are chopped and crushed into “eco-rubber,” which is then used to make recycled soles and other products. The company is committed to reducing its environmental impact and has implemented sustainable practices throughout its operations.

Another signatory to the pact, Ambitious, plans to use recycled materials in around half of its shoes by 2025. The company’s marketing chief, Miguel Vieira, acknowledges that sustainable products and technologies often come with a higher price tag than non-sustainable alternatives. However, he believes that consumers are becoming more aware of the environmental impact of their purchases and are willing to pay a premium for sustainable products.

Green shoes to be supported if going an extra mile

Pedro Saraiva, sales head at Bolflex, believes that a change in consumer and company behavior is still five to ten years away. People are still more likely to choose the cheapest option available, which often means non-sustainable products.

To accelerate the process of sustainable production and consumption, EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius believes that government support is crucial.

Non-sustainable businesses should pay more for dealing with their waste, and “clear legislation” is needed to prevent greenwashing. Businesses that go the extra mile in innovation and ensure that their products can be recycled, repurposed, and reused should be incentivized.

The future is in the circular economy

The Portuguese footwear industry’s green initiative is an encouraging step toward a circular economy. Recycling and sustainable practices are becoming increasingly important to consumers. So companies prioritizing sustainability will likely be rewarded in the long run.

However, there are still challenges to overcome, such as the price differential between sustainable and non-sustainable products and consumer behavior.

Government support and clear legislation are necessary to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable economy. By working together, businesses, consumers, and policymakers can create a more sustainable future for all.