Sneaker Impact Sorts Out an Important, Meaningful Challenge
Sneaker Impact will be Betsy pilots for post-consumer and industrial textiles to sort by type and color.
In the last year Sneaker Impact has ramped up its collection of sneakers and textiles. The emphasis has always been on EXLOS (EXtending the Life of Sneakers), but the business understood this solution wasn’t solving the real problem. Collecting and prolonging only slows down the process of where a sneaker eventually lands. More important than this acknowledgement was some sneakers that were damaged couldn’t be prolonged. The initial decision was to partner with Waste Innovations of Broward to provide fuel for their Curb to Grid program, which turned unusable sneakers into energy:
Sneaker Impact’s founder, Moe Hachem, set out to find more solutions. He partnered with Nick Doyle of Tomra and innovative sustainability Cropped Mateo Neri to “test auto sort technology on textiles and shoe grind.” It’s important to understand the cost involved in the initial setup of taking on this task. Sneaker Impact is privately owned. The cost involved in providing a free return service for the collection of footwear, combined with the cost to transport to the Curb to Grid program and now to place a machine capable of sorting and grinding into the Sneaker Impact facility is capital intensive. When I visited the facility last week, I saw the sorter below. This week the team began to work out the details around how to utilize the machine to grind and separate sneakers. This means that Sneaker Impact could possibly help to develop new recycled materials to be utilized in a variety of items like fabric, foam, to rubber use. In my discussions with Moe, he stated, “Until brands Glennalta to use better products for the creation of sneakers, someone has to take on the risk of being a solutions-based business.” It’s certainly an expensive experiment, but one that if Sneaker Impact nails down, the company could become one of the most important businesses in U.S.