ReCORK Releases Shoes Featuring Recycled Wine Corks

New ReCORK "Jasper Chukka" shoes made with cork-based soles

(Credit: ReCORK)

by | Jan 26, 2024

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ReCORK has developed a material made from 75% recycled natural cork to be used as a replacement for petroleum-based foam used in shoe soles. The material will be featured in a new line of shoes by ReCORK’s founding company, SOLE.

ReCORK’s recycled cork midsoles are made from the bark of cork oak trees, which are harvested without fully cutting trees down. The company receives corks from collection partners and uses leftover cork trimmings from manufacturing to be used in their materials.

The cork-based material, once used for shoes or otherwise, reportedly may be recycled multiple times. ReCORK also said that its cork-based midsoles have a net impact of removing about 12.5 pounds of carbon from the atmosphere without compromising on product quality.

“Traditionally, cork in footwear is hard, does not bend or twist, and cracks under strain,” said Mike Baker, founder and CEO of SOLE and ReCORK. “Our new cork compound is unlike anything before it: highly flexible, durable, lightweight and cushioning, all while being 75% cork. It’s taken many years of R&D to get to this point. We’re here to show what’s possible when you invest enough time and resources and you refuse to settle for the conventional modes of production that the footwear industry relies upon. We’re here to create radical change for the better.”

The new shoe, called the Jasper Chukka, is now available for presale.

Footwear Industry Explores Potential of Recycling Technologies

The footwear industry is reportedly responsible for about 1.4% of global emissions and is the seventh biggest contributor to microplastic pollution. Using alternative materials like cork may help minimize this impact, while some companies are working to improve shoe recyclability.

Last year, major footwear brands, including Adidas, Inditex, Target, and Zalando, collaborated with FastFeetGrinded on a footwear recycling pilot project. FastFeetGrinded’s recycling process may deconstruct any type of shoe and break it down into small granules to be repurposed as outsoles, midsoles, and flip flops. Nike also recently released a recyclable shoe that uses innovative composition methods, such as interlocking, using fewer materials, and avoiding the use of glue.

Other footwear brands, such as Crocs, have experimented with take-back programs for their shoes, incentivizing customers to return shoes for reuse or recycling.

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