At Wiivv our goal is to transform footwear for every unique human body, so you can move and live the way you were made to. We care passionately about the environmental and social impacts of creating our products, and have this in mind every step of the way.
In honor of Earth Day, we wanted to shed some light on the potential environmental impacts of our industry, how we have looked for solutions in these areas, and our plans for a sustainable future.
The footwear industry has made significant leaps to improve the environmental and social sustainability of its supply chain over the last decade, with reduction of harmful chemicals, processes and improvements in working conditions. However, the requirements of design, materials, supply chain and product make it challenging to reduce landfill waste and carbon emissions associated with footwear manufacturing.
Scale: currently over 20 billion pairs of shoes are produced globally each year - the United States has the highest per capita shoe consumption at 6.9 pairs of shoes each year.
Waste: around 95 percent of those shoes end up in landfill, the remainder being down-cycled into applications like flooring or donated for reuse. Production Waste: traditional methods for manufacturing foam or rubber footwear components is produces a great deal of waste, with offcuts adding up to as much as 50% of the material in some processes.
Materials: conventional foams used in footwear cannot be recycled. This waste is sent to land fill or incinerated, often without emissions reducing or energy recovery technologies.
Carbon Footprint: shoes are typically manufactured in Asia, before being distributed globally, resulting in a typical shoe travelling over 10,000 miles to reach its North American customer.
Return Rate: shoes sold through online channels typically have a return rate of close to 20-35%, further increasing the shipping and packaging emissions.
A study by MIT in 2013 found that more than two thirds of the life cycle impact of a running shoe came from manufacturing processes, and that transportation and end of life for the shoe were relatively small contributors.
Modular Design: the Wiivv Sandal has a modular design, allowing the straps and arches to be interchanged, replaced if broken, and separated for recycling. This extends the life of the product, and allows much better recycling at end of life. Our modular design also allows us to have 4 times fewer inventory items, reducing chances of over production, and uses as many net shape manufacturing processes as possible to reduce offcuts and material waste.
Sustainable Materials: Components and materials for the Wiivv Custom-Fit Sandal are created in Asia by our B-Corp Certified manufacturing partner PlusFoam. The PlusFoam material used to manufacture our footbed fully closed-loop recyclable, unlike conventional foamsBecause of PlusFoam, Any waste or offcuts from our moulding processes are recycled back into raw material without down-cycling.(https://www.bcorporation.net/community/plusfoam)
Recyclability: Customers can use PlusFoam’s product recycling scheme to return their sandal at the end of life to be recycled into raw materials, reducing waste to land fill.
Carbon Footprint: Our returns rate is around 6 times lower than typical for the footwear industry thanks to our mass customized design delivering the perfect-fit every time. We are completing our customization and final assembly in San Diego, California, where the CO2 emissions for electricity are around 35% lower than in China.
Premium materials, design, and engineering have been used to maximize the lifetime and effectiveness of the sandal. Along with this, the interchangeable straps and unmatched comfort and versatility of our sandal make it the only sandal you need to own 😉
The Wiivv Custom Fit Sandal
For the sake of transparency – we estimate we will be using the following amounts of materials, transportation and energy to fulfil our Kickstarter Campaign:
- 2,500kg of PlusFoam components
- 3,300kg of card packaging
- 500kg of 3D printed nylon
- 320kg of mixed textiles and plastic for our straps
- 120kg of stainless steel
- 7,500 miles ocean freight for all components
- Average 1,200 miles shipping final product to the customer
- Around 12,000 kWH of energy consumption in our 3D printing and customisation facility.
A significant volume of materials, emissions, and energy – for which we take a great responsibility to minimize.
A Sustainable Future – What we Plan to do
- 3D Printing Emissions & Waste: As a relatively new process at scale, 3D printing is yet to come under the same environmental scrutiny as conventional production processes. We intend to lead improvements in areas such as production efficiency, energy consumption and micro-plastic water contamination.
Recycling: We aim to continue to improve recycling processes for components other than our footbeds – such as finding ways to recycle our 3D printed Nylon components without down-cycling. To promote end of life product recycling, we would like to introduce schemes which encourage, and reduce the impact of returning products for recycling.
- Distribution: We aim to continue to build our local distributed manufacturing model. 95% of our sales are currently in North America, making a single San Diego based assembly and customization facility the best solution environmentally. As our volumes grow, and we expand into and beyond our existing 39 countries, we will be able to create facilities strategically close to points of product delivery reducing shipping times, environmental impacts and business costs.
- Localization: As we grow as a business and gain skills and experience, we hope to increase the scope of our domestic manufacturing, therefore reducing overseas component production.
- Design: we are constantly researching and implementing product and packaging design modifications for reduced environmental impact.
R&D: We intend to gather more detailed analysis of the life cycle impacts of our products to better understand their impacts and where to best focus our efforts for maximum impact.
As a small start-up, new to this industry, we are doing our best to reduce our environmental impact with the resources we have, and welcome any feedback, guidance or assistance on our journey to transform the footwear industry by using our technology to enable more comfortable, better performing products with a smaller environmental footprint.
– Chris Bellamy, Wiivv Engineer
Recycle our Sandal here: