Foam is the most important component of a shoe. Foam is any plastic or rubber compound with air bubbles or cells inside. It provides the comfort, structure, and cushioning for the shoe. There are many types of foam used in the midsole and insole of a shoe. How a shoe feels on the foot will directly depend on the type of foam used.
Although foam is important, it is also an environmental disaster. As foam sits in landfills, the plastic or rubber breaks down into tiny toxic particles. The chemicals contaminate the soil, waterways, and groundwater. The more foam that is thrown away, the more toxic of an environment we create. Footwear can take up to thousands of years to naturally degrade. We wear shoes for a short while, but they are a part of the earth thousands of years after we discard them.
Does the problem stop with just the foam we see in our shoes?
Absolutely not. Millions of tons of foam scraps are created as a waste by-product of footwear manufacturing every year. The scraps are thrown into landfills, harmfully polluting the environment. Every shoe factory (and there are a lot of them) has piles of trash that they don’t know what to do with.
Foam waste from manufacturing
Although this foam waste is made of plastic, it is virtually impossible to recycle. Compare foam waste scraps to a single plastic water bottle. Foam is comprised of multiple kinds of plastics to make 1 foam piece. Once you combine the plastics into 1, you can’t recycle the waste in the traditional recycling process like you can a plastic water bottle.
How can we recycle foam and how can we divert this waste from the landfills? Enter Blumaka. We collect the high-performance foam from these factories, and turn it into new, high-performance product. We literally take what would be trash and turn it into great new product.
Although we all love our shoes, we have to keep in mind what it took to create them. It will take companies, like Blumaka, doing things in totally new ways to start to reverse the drastic impact we are having on our environment.