Responding to a global emergency

Whilst the world’s media has focused on fast fashion and the need for sustainable fashion, footwear brands have avoided the spotlight. But the stark facts behind footwear pollution are of the same magnitude, if not greater.

  • We manufacture 25 BILLION pairs of shoes every year
  • FIFTY BILLION individual shoes
  • Includes 3 billion pairs of synthetic flip-flops per annum
  • Every single one heading to landfill or the environment at end-of-life
  • Each pair weighs between 0.5-1kg creating millions of tonnes to sit in landfill
  • The volume is growing 20% every decade – that’s another 10 billion extra linear throwaway shoes by 2030
  • To put this into context the world production of apparel is only 100 billion items per annum

The athletic footwear market alone is worth around $50bn – but close to zero is being spent on environmental initiatives and circularity.

At Circuthon® Consulting we decided that something needed to be done about it. We live and breathe circularity – but we can only name 3-4 circular footwear brands at a stretch. That just isn’t sustainable for the planet.

Before it’s too late, we have launched the Circular Footwear Initiative™. The planet cannot absorb fifty to sixty billion shoes per year.

“To make a circular economy work, it is essential for industry to let go of the destructive misconception that the best way to create economic value is from products that are newly manufactured out of virgin materials. Footwear is a great place to start this process. After all, new shoes hurt and we all know that comfy, perfect fit that comes about only with time. Because of this hard-won quality, footwear represents a huge opportunity for exploring and implementing one of my circular design concepts for extending product lifetime, Value Added Repair: repairing products in such a clever way that the repaired product is perceived as even better and more valuable than when it was new.”

Dr. Marcel den Hollander - Integrated Strategic Circular Design Consultant

Faced with these staggering statistics and living in a pivotal moment where the sustainability of our planet is being pushed to its limit, Circuthon’s Circular Footwear Initiative is demanding us all, businesses and citizens alike, to make real, positive change. With Circuthon’s extensive knowledge, experience and vision they provide the platform to educate and engage footwear brands, giving them the opportunity to revolutionise their industry.”

Rachel Fortune, CEO, Sustainable Lifestyle Awards.

We need footwear to disassemble, be repairable, be repurposed and to expand when a child grows. We need materials and componentry which can be refashioned, restructured and if all else fails, recycled.

At the very least, in the short term, footwear needs to be compostable, and by that we mean certified compostable, not some greenwash mythical biodegradation.

We are gathering together some of the greatest minds in circularity alongside circular fashion and footwear experts and industrial designers. We are planning a series of events and roundtables to encourage debate and sharing of information.

We are working with manufacturers of footwear and componentry whilst inviting other major brands to do the same. We’re excited to be working with some real pioneers on the supply side.

If you can help, or want to know more, please email