Giving new life to leftover sole discards to create special “clogs” that protect the hooves of cattle from hoof rot, a disease that hits 40% of cattle herds. This is the idea at the heart of the project, which brings together two extremely different worlds, that of footwear and that of cattle ranches. The protagonists of this collaboration are Idea Plast, a leader in the design of urban objects and furnishings made from the recycled plastic of waste recycling banks, with its headquarters situated in Lainate (Milan); Punto 3, an agency from Ferrara specialised in sustainable development projects; and two sector associations of reference: Assocalzaturifici and ARAL (the Lombardy Regional Breeders’ Association).

Financed by the Lombardy Region, the project uses the recycled plastic of production scraps coming from the soles of safety footwear to create protective clogs, with this special cattle “shoe” conceived and developed by Idea Plast: “A correct management of the entire supply chain from the recovery of production scraps to their reuse, can transform plastic waste into a resource. – declares Alessandro Trentini, founder and technical director of the company. – We believe a lot in this project because in addition to creating a bridge between two sectors that no one would have ever imagined might come into contact with one another, it also represents a completely new concept for Italy, while confirming the central importance of Research and Development in pinpointing solutions that transform a problem into an opportunity, with an orientation towards values of sustainability”.

A concrete example of a circular economy, the project offers many benefits to all the stakeholders involved: footwear manufacturers that will save money in terms of waste disposal, and in fact make a profit from their waste; Italian and foreign breeders, which will see fewer of their cattle herds lost to hoof rot; but also the entire community, thanks to fewer greenhouse gas emissions (since the discards are not disposed of in waste-to-energy plants). At the same time, a completely new market is created, which on a European level counts an estimated 30 million head of cattle.

Measuring the impact of the circular productive process will be Punto 3 with LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) methodology used to analyse and compare it with the scenario of the linear economy model. The analysis, undertaken in accordance with the ISO 14044 standard, will regard the entire lifecycle process and will highlight the environmental impact in terms of the CO2 emissions generated in the two scenarios.

Alessandro Trentini