Inspired by the urgency to address the problems caused by ocean plastic and fashion industry waste, Effekt Footwear has created a range of sneakers made predominantly from upcycled waste.
Described in jest as “the world’s most rubbish sneaker” the Alchemy-X is handmade in Portugal, made almost entirely from recovered ocean plastics and discarded offcuts from the fashion industry. It comes with six colour options.
“This goes deeper than just making sneakers, it’s about creating a shift in mindset and using the materials we have lying around to promote the circular economy,” explains Effekt’s founder Ben Smits, an Australian now based in Austria.
“This project is a social experiment into consumer sentiment regarding the reuse of materials to create highly desirable products.
“There are plenty of brands creating footwear from new low impact materials, but we decided to use waste products instead. We want to create value from these material streams and encourage others to do the same. It’s one of many ways we can produce value by cleaning up our planet.”
The product is the subject of a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter which runs until August 6.
The Effekt sneakers comprise 90-per-cent recovered materials, including around 775gm of ocean plastic, rubber, and textile waste. The upper is made from ocean plastic removed from the Mediterranean Sea, the sole from an eco rubber mix containing 70-per-cent recycled content, and the lining and insole from blends of recycled textiles.
The company spent 18 months researching materials and creating prototypes before revealing the Alchemy-X. Smits says the team was inspired by medieval chemists trying to turn scrap metal into gold, tapping into “21st-century alchemy” to turn waste materials into sneakers.
There is much more to Effekt’s mission than making runners.
“Finding a new use for materials is only one piece of the puzzle,” says Smits. “In order to transition to a circular economy, we need buy-in from the consumer. We encourage our customers to send their end-of-life Effekt sneakers back to us where we work with our suppliers to recycle those sneakers back into new materials. We offer the customer a nice incentive to do so.”
Effekt has partnered with the Kahana Foundation, a Hawaiian-based nonprofit which uses media as a tool to increase awareness and promote solutions to the environmental issues facing the planet. Proceeds from the sale of sneakers sold will be directed to protecting some of the world’s most popular surf beaches, many of which are overwhelmed with ocean plastic.
“Ocean plastic is out of control,” says Smits. “We cannot rely on governments and organisations alone to help fix this problem. By creating value from waste plastic, we hope to encourage more people to see this material not as waste, but as a resource. Once we hit critical mass, everyone will be racing to remove it from the ocean.”
Effekt is based in Vienna, Austria, and has support from the eBridge Alliance, Munich Global Impact Sprint, FH Campus Wien Start-Up Service and Ouroborus.