US sustainable women’s footwear firm Rothy’s has diverted more than 15.5m plastic bottles from landfill since its founding, as the company grows its portfolio.
Founded in 2016, the company buys plastic bottles from recycling centres around the world to create its shoe collection. They are manufactured at a 65,000 sq ft factory in southern China, owned by Rothy’s, employing about 100 workers.
The bottles are hot-washed for sterilization and chipped into flakes. These are then shaped into pellets that are heated and drawn into soft filaments of plastic. A blast of air at high pressure causes the threads to tangle and form fuller fibres.
The shoes were created following three years of research and have resulted in the diversion of 15,502,755 plastic bottles from landfill. This year, the company added to its range of pointy and round-toe shoes with a loafer.
Created with a 3D knitted upper, the shoes are recyclable, have a carbon-free rubber sole, moisture-wicking weather comfort and are machine washable.
Co-founders Stephen Hawthornwaite and Roth Martin say the launch of the company was in response to a gap in the market. “Sustainability was growing in importance but was not yet stylish, and style and comfort rarely coexisted. Women needed a stylish, comfortable, sustainable shoe they could wear all day every day, no matter where their busy lives took them.
“Our mission was to create the most stylish, comfortable shoe for today’s on-the-go woman. And do it with low-waste, low-impact materials, hand-assembled for high quality and durability.”
The company is also hoping to close the loop with its footwear line and is encouraging consumers to return shoes at the end of their life to Rothy’s recycling facility.