Salomon unveils Index.02 recyclable running shoe

For the Spring/Summer 2023 season, Salomon has introduced the INDEX.02, a new recyclable running shoe that builds upon the groundbreaking INDEX.01 model that the company introduced two years ago.

Like its predecessor, the INDEX.02 is 100 per cent recyclable. It’s also ten per cent lighter (263grams) and features a massive upgrade in comfort and performance due to improvements in the midsole geometry, foam quality and upper construction.

Most notably, the midsole foam and midsole geometry of the INDEX.02 have been upgraded to increase comfort and running performance by delivering smoother transitions from stride to stride. The plush, long-lasting comfort is due to the use of a lightweight Infiniride foam. This TPU foam is the only foam that is fully recyclable. The weight of the INDEX.02 has also been reduced from 288 grams down to 263 grams (sample size 8.5 UK). The INDEX.02 shoe also has an updated upper, which now features more colors, softer materials and premium finishes for improved step-in comfort. Specifically, the upper uses Engineered Mesh, a structure that varies the weave to offer more support and breathability, along with better flexibility or durability, according to the specific needs of the shoe. 

“The foam is less dense on the INDEX.02, so it feels cushier,” says Laurent Coudurier, Salomon Footwear R&D Manager. “We also removed some bits in the upper, bringing the shoe closer to the foot. Our goal is to provide the same level of performance as the rest of our road running shoes and we’re getting there.”  

Like its predecessor, the INDEX.02 features a unique construction that allows it to be disassembled at the end of its life, so that the shoe materials can be recycled and used to make a new product. There is even a subtle line along the shoe showing where it will be split when it is recycled. The different colors on the upper and bottom unit of the shoe help to highlight that the shoe only uses two materials and that it can (and should) be separated at the end of its life. A QR code on the tongue of one shoe allows the shoe owner to easily scan it and register it after purchase, making it easy to return it for recycling at the end of its life. Like the INDEX.01, when INDEX.02 shoes are sent back for recycling, the materials will be used in the construction of Salomon alpine ski boots.  

“We really wanted to highlight the recyclable story of the INDEX.02, with two colours on the upper and the bottom unit, as well as a thin line that highlights where the shoe will be separated,” said Coudurier.  

Available to consumers in 2021, the INDEX.01 was Salomon’s first shoe that was designed to be recycled, with the recycled materials being used in the construction of Salomon’s MTN Pure ski touring boot range.

“We started researching materials for the INDEX.01 shoe about five years ago, looking to reduce its impact,” added Coudurier. “With this new INDEX.02 model, we’re getting closer to providing the same level of performance as the rest of our road running shoes.” 

Analyzing the lifecycle of the Index.01 to create the Index.02

To assess the environmental impact of the INDEX.01 recyclable running shoe, Salomon’s Footwear development teams compared the impact of the INDEX.01 with the Sonic 3 shoe from the brand’s road running range. By compiling and evaluating the inputs, outputs and potential environmental impacts of a shoe throughout its lifecycle, it is possible to clearly tell the impact of each step—in terms of carbon emissions, use of natural resources, water eutrophication from nitrates (caused by the cooling of machines and colorization) and water acidification, among other aspects (17 in total).

“A lifecycle analysis identifies the biggest environmental impact during the life-cycle of the product, in order to work on reducing it,” said Olivier Mouzin, Footwear Sustainability Manager.

The way the INDEX.01 is made and the fact that it can be recycled reduces by 44% the amount of CO2 compared to a traditional shoe, which is 4.9kg of CO2 Eq less for every pair. The emissions from the lifecycle of the Sonic 3 are 11.2kg of CO2 Eq; the INDEX.01 emits 6,3kg of CO2 Eq. Water eutrophication is reduced by 70%, and water acidification is reduced by 35 percent.

“The INDEX.01 is a great start for sustainable footwear: we can test this new, simple design and its performance on the road, and test out the collecting and recycling process,” Mouzin added. “As the lifecycle analysis shows, the impact of the shoe is reduced by 44 percent, which validates our work and encourages us to develop more footwear products following this circular economy concept. Now, with the INDEX.02, we are continuing to improve the quality, comfort and performance of a fully recyclable shoe. It’s very encouraging.”

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