Novita Shoes produces school shoe soles from 100% recycled material

Submitted by: Kathryn Kasavel, Thursday, November 21, 2013

<p>Novita’s Genius Smart School Shoes (Source: SAPRO)</p>

Novita’s Genius Smart School Shoes (Source: SAPRO)

Novita Shoes, a Durban based shoe manufacturer, recently received a gold award in the 2013 South African Plastics Recycling Organisation (SAPRO) Best Recycled Product Awards for their Genius Smart School Shoe soles that are made from 100% recycled material. Eugasen Reddy, General Manager of Novita Shoes, explains that the Novita Genius Smart Shoe soles are manufactured from “purchased recycled PVC granules, which are processed through an extruder into moulds” and that “all PVC waste from the extrusion process is also recycled, effectively resulting in a zero waste process.” Annabe Pretorius a spokesperson for SAPRO adds that the recycled material of the soles is a “100% replacement for virgin plasticised PVC compound and at the end of the shoe’s life, the sole can find its way back into the system and can be recycled again.” 80 tonnes of recycled PVC is used every month to produce the product, says Pretorius.

Cost savings and sustainability

Reddy explains that at Novita Shoes “sustainability and environmental objectives have been, and continue to be, just as important as financial objectives.” Reddy states that they initially started using recycled material for their school shoe soles as a cost saving exercise and explains “it has taken some time and product development to get it right, but we are now seeing that we can produce shoes with the same benefits, features and functionality as before, at a reduced price while supporting our commitment to sustainability in the company.” Novita also believes in supporting local communities and according to their 2011 Sustainability Report, donated over 1000 pairs of school shoes in 2011. The report states that Novita recognises that in some cases children who are given a pair of shoes are also given the chance to go to school.

Ensuring a high quality product

Pretorius states that the school shoes are “highly durable, hard wearing, comfortable and above all affordable.” In order to ensure that the shoe soles are of a good standard, “regular testing of outsole flexing is conducted to ensure quality consistency” and “wearer trials and feedback from customers contributes to the perfection with which these shoes are manufactured,” she adds. 

Pretorius says that the product is competing in a market dominated by imports from the East yet it “competes well on price” and “is beautifully finished” thus appealing to the customer. Reddy states that there is a high demand for their shoes and that the supply of recycled material at the moment does not match the demand.

The shoes come with a six month guarantee which Pretorius says is “conveying a solid message that the manufacturer trusts his recycled material supplier in providing him with a sound quality grade of material”. She also adds that the “average consumer, (the bulk of the consumers!), probably don’t even know that the soles are made from recycled material and that told the judges [of the SAPRO Best Recycled Product Awards] that there is a total consumer confidence in the product”.

Gold award in the 2013 SAPRO Best Recycled Product Awards

Pretorius says that the fact that a simple pair of shoes is a winner in the Best Recycled Products for 2013 reflects that “recycled material is absolutely acceptable in everyday products that the consumers use and trust well with their well earned money.” She elaborates that “the innocence of school shoes on the feet of young kids made from recycled material is telling us that recycled material is OK, it is good enough for our everyday products, we can trust them and recycled material can take us places”. Reddy expresses that the award from SAPRO brings attention to recycled products as he states “it is good to know that the companies that are initiating efforts to improve their recycling component are getting recognition” and that “this will, in turn, promote further awareness along the value chain”.

To keep updated with sustainability news subscribe to the fortnightly Urban Earth Newsletter.

Kathryn Kasavel