Innovation That Matters

The Rens trainers are made from the equivalent of 21 cups of coffee | Photo source Rens

A waterproof shoe made from coffee and recycled plastic

Sport & Fitness

A recently-released ethical shoe is created out of recycled plastic bottles and used coffee grounds

Spotted: Finnish footwear firm Rens has launched a sustainable running shoe made from coffee waste and recycled plastic bottles. While there are a number of products made from recycled plastic bottles, there are fewer that use coffee grounds. Yet coffee makes up around 13 per cent of Finland’s annual food refuse. Only fruit and veg are thrown in the bin more often. And this is important because, according to Rens, used coffee grounds emit as much methane as 10 million cars.

Rens’ first-generation of recycled trainers, dubbed ‘Originals’ contain around 300 grammes of coffee waste, equivalent to 21 cups. The spent grounds are mixed with recycled plastic pellets from used water bottles. The material is used to create what the company calls coffee polyester yarn, which is turned into the upper part of the shoe.

In addition to using sustainable materials, Rens claims to offset all emissions from the production, packaging, and distribution of its products. The result is a climate neutral product. The company funded the development of the trainer with a KickStarter campaign in 2017. A follow-up campaign in 2021 raised funding for the development of a second-generation version to be called ‘Nomad’.

Rens co-founder and CTO Son Chu explained the motivation behind the product’s development. “In the market, sustainable products are really popular. What we see as a problem is that those products are not made for young people,” he said, adding, “The way that they are selling the products is like: ‘Hey, use us or else the planet is going to die.’ We don’t like that approach. We want to be a brand where we make sustainable products, but they are cool, they have really cool functions, people can actually use them.”

The Original and Nomad are part of a trend for athletic wear made from recycled and sustainable materials. We have seen a number of these products here at Springwise, including trainers with soles made using algae, fruit waste, and cork, among many others.

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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