The new range, now available on the M&S website, is made from a variety of post-consumer waste. Half of the shoe’s reinforcements are formed from recycled plastic bottles; 57% of the linings are made from coffee grounds; while the flexible sole consists of 35% natural rubber and 10% rice husks. Water-based adhesives requiring less water and energy to produce have also been used, rather than solvent or latex.

All of the individual components of the shoes have been sourced from suppliers who had either developed them using recycled post consumer waste or in a sustainable way. The leather upper has been sustainably sourced from a certified tannery, while 100% of the polyester thread used in construction and 70% of the foam padding are recycled.

The factory manufacturing the shoes is also signed on to M&S’s Plan A sustainability programme and became one of the company’s ‘eco factories’; ensuring it is more environmentally water, waste and energy efficient.

Lighter footprint…

The retailer has been working on this new footwear range for the past 18 months as part of its efforts to address social and environmental issues through Plan A, which aims to make M&S the world’s most sustainable major retailer by 2015 through 150 commitments to combat climate change, reduce waste, use sustainable raw materials, trade ethically, and help its customers to lead healthier lifestyles. programme.

Writing in a company blog post, M&S’s footwear technologist Rachel Pedley said: “As our loyal customers know when it comes to sustainability, we always like to go the extra mile.

“We hope that consumers care as deeply as we do about eco-conscious products and confident they’re helping to make a difference to the environment when wearing our Footglove Earth shoes.”

Video: Making sustainable shoes

As part of Plan A, M&S has also committed to help customers recycle over 20 million items of clothing a year by 2015 by encouraging customers to ‘Shwop’. Customers are being asked to bring old clothing items to M&S stores to put in the provided ‘Shwop Drop’ boxes. Collected clothes go to M&S’ partners Oxfam who either sell the items or recycle the fibres. 

Oxfam has said that 9,513 garments are thrown into landfill every five minutes, totalling one billion items per year and the equivalent of one in four garments sold.

Last October, Edie reported that Stella McCartney was tackling this problem by making her clothes more biodegradable – including using the biodegradable thermoplastic Apinat in the soles of all of Stella shoes. Parent company Kering has also introduced the biodegradable soles across several other brands, including Gucci and Puma.

M&S at Sustainability Live 2015

Marks & Spencer’s head of energy supply and risk Gio Patellaro will be speaking on the keynote stage at the brand-new, high-level Sustainability Live Conference in April.

Find out more and register for the Sustainability Live Conference here.

Lucinda Dann

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie