Ecoalf’s Shao sneakers feature yarn uppers made from ocean plastic and a foam sole made from processed algae.

Trudie Carter writes for dezeen.com that the new footwear collection from Spanish fashion brand Ecoalf is made from recycled plastic and algae found in oceans and rivers.

Old plastic bottles sourced from the Mediterranean Sea are used to create each pair of Shao sneakers. This discarded plastic is processed into a yarn, which is used to create a black knitted upper sole that fits the wearer like a sock.

The outer sole is made from a type of algae that grows in excess in lakes and rivers. Ecoalf transforms this algae into a flexible foam that permits easy movement, while benefiting the environment.

“Algae gives us the most flexible-performing foam,” the brand told Dezeen. “Also, removing it allows clean water to circulate properly, supports plant and animal life, and eliminates the need for non-renewable oils.”

The shoe has a minimal, no-fuss design, meaning it can be mass-produced as efficiently as possible with these limited raw materials.

“The process is zero-waste,” said the brand. “We only use two materials, and construct the upper sole in a way that reduces the number of steps in the supply chain to just one. There are no laces, no insole, and we’ve printed our label to avoid using any extra fabric, without compromising on the design.”

Ecoalf works with fishermen along the coast of Spain to source the waste for all of its collections, as part of a long-term project called Upcycling the Oceans. The fishermen take rubbish caught in their nets to their local port for Ecoalf to collect and process.

The program began in Alicante, Spain, in 2015 and is now underway in 52 ports, with over 3,000 fishermen involved and 250 tons of waste material already removed from the oceans. In 2017, Ecoalf extended the program to Thailand at the request of its government.

Ocean plastic is an increasingly popular material with designers, as the global waste crisis continues to dominate the environmental agenda.

The Shao sneakers are set to launch in September 2018, forming part of Ecoalf’s new Ocean Waste footwear collection.

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