How is Bolflex reducing its environmental footprint?


It is estimated that 1,430,000 tonnes of waste per year are produced in the European Union. It is known that the rubber industry is one that contributes well to the increase in this number. Also, in 2015, about 4.5 million tons of rubber were stopped at landfills. At Bolflex, we are contradicting these statistics. We went further and took that extra step to reduce our environmental footprint. How? you ask. That’s what we explain next.

How could we enhance our primary raw material, the rubber?

As a company specialized in the shoe components sector – in the production and supply of soles and other products for the footwear industry – at Bolflex we are aware that it is urgent to reduce the amount of new rubber we use. Knowing that we produced, daily, about 5 tons of rubber, the challenge was to reduce this consumption and, at the same time, give a new life to waste and all surpluses from production rubber as well as soles at the end of the life cycle.

Until today it was not determined yet what’s rubber biodegradation time, so it becomes a material whose end of life is invariably at a landfill. This process carries not only additional costs of transport – through the hiring of specialized companies – but also costs per tonne wasted.

In this sense, recycling and reusing this material became our main concern: through a specific process, we can transform, devulcanize and create, through rubber surpluses, a new compound with the same characteristics and specificities as the original product. Therefore, we don’t only reduce the production of rubber, but also ensure that the surplus material will not be wasted, but rather reavailed.

Our solution to recycle rubber has a name: Rubber Link®

Recycling rubber is our goal, but how can we execute it? That’s the big question. We know the surplus or waste materials in the production of the Bolflex soles, but the ideal would be to enjoy the end-of-life materials too, which if it wasn’t for that would become garbage. Actually, we found a way to do it, as for our surplus materials and so for those from other producers: throughout a recycling process of devulcanized rubber on a new factory exclusively created for this purpose and we named it Rubber Link®.

That said, there are many advantages associated with the rubber recycling process:

  1. Reutilization of surplus materials
  2. Reduction of production costs
  3. Elimination of transportation costs and landfill surplus
  4. Economy-saving the production time
  5. The recycled rubber maintains the same quality standard as the original product
  6. Reduction of rubber production
  7. Reduction of the environmental footprint

Besides, through Rubber Link® we can produce shoe uppers – the frontal and upper part of the shoe – with our R-Skin. Also using recycled components fully customized, with organic and other incorporated materials makes it possible to answer to our client’s demands regarding the ultimate market trends. There exists also a possibility to produce this kind of material to be used as 100cm x 60cm plaques – that can be applied in the most diverse ways possible – according to the customer request.

These recycled materials used on the upper shoe production are transformed into the fabric that acquires the following features:

  1. Waterproofing
  2. Flexibility
  3. Great traction resistance: bigger resistance than skin or other fabric
  4. Less environmental impact
  5. Greatly personalized
  6. Possibility to incorporate other materials such as denim
  7. Easy to clean

We incorporate up to 70% of a recycled component in a sole

The question is not “How?”, but “Why”?. Why did we decide to ride into this adventure of creating, within Bolflex, a way to reuse the surplus of our raw material? There’s an obvious answer: because we do care for our environmental preservation.

It’s been 6 years that, through Rubber Link® we can incorporate up to 70% of recycled component into a sole, this means that we only need to produce 30% of the original rubber, which also means 70 tons instead of 240 that we used to produce before, per year.

Besides this component, we can reduce the use of fossil resources (essential in new rubber production), and also decrease the amount of energy spent on the production of that new synthetic rubber. On a Bolflex sole, since the recycled component is 70%, it represents a very significant number regarding our daily and annual original rubber production. 

Also, this recycled material garanties the same quality of performance as the original one.

Knowing that the rubber production industry – either synthetic, either natural – has a huge impact not only on an environmental level but also on a social scale – throughout the changes that affect the communities on the countries where this remains a primary activity – and also on an economic level. It’s also known that this is one of the most polluting industries globally, caused by the high level of rubber waste – mainly in the tire production sector: it is estimated that, per year, there are being produced 1.7 billion new tires worldwide.

So, it becomes urgent that we find viable and sustainable solutions to decrease this number.

Ecological and vegan soles? Yes, with our E-Rubber® it is possible

The greatest challenges begin with great questions and demand equally great solutions. So, for us, it became imperative to create our own brand of eco and vegan soles – the E-Rubber®.

Naturally, E-Rubber® soles are 100% recyclable and 100% vegan, with several kinds of reused materials and free from toxic substances for the human being and for the environment:

  1. Cork
  2. Rice Grains
  3. Rubber granny from other soles
  4. Others

Rubber is not the only recycled material at Bolflex

Our environmental concerns go beyond the rubber reuse and so at Bolflex we recover other materials and reduce its surplus:

  • Thermoplastics: reuse the maximum of this material and when there’s a waste, we immediately treat it and reintroduce it – at Rubber Link® -, avoiding time and energy losses, reducing its associated costs; 
  • Aluminum: used on molds that we produce, sometimes occurs surplus that is redistributed for new molds production; 
  • Paper, plastic, oils, batteries and other materials: everything is separated and delivered to companies that take care of it properly. 

Besides, at Bolflex we follow the norms:

  • ISO2871-Met. B-2008;
  • EN ISO 20872-2001;
  • PT ISO17707-2003;
  • PT ISO20871-2001;

Environmental responsibility is for everyone

The most recent numbers – there is estimated that there are 4.2 million deaths per year related to air pollution – show us that the atmosphere contamination is, nowadays, the major threat to human health and for the planet’s health. The last data demonstrate that among the most popular polluting sectors we find Transportation (in the USA the numbers reach 27.8% greenhouse gases emitted to the atmosphere), Electricity (27,5% also concerning the USA) and Industry (reaching 22.% in the USA as well).

Even though countries and its institutions are taking action towards climate change awareness, the truth is that environmental responsibility should be a global concern. Everyone has his own role as actors of change, in a way that we can contribute to preserving the environment.

That is why, at Bolflex we appeal to our community, our partners and, mostly, the manufacturers of our business sector, to collaborate with us and lead your rubber surplus towards Rubber Link®. Therefore, we can transform the end of life materials into recycled ones so that they can live a new life and serve a new purpose.

This way, we all be making a compromise in order to preserve our environment.

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