The world's first footwear recycling system was developed by a team of researchers at the Centre for Sustainable Manufacturing and Recycling Technologies (SMART) at Loughborough. This footwear recycling system is able to recover different material streams from footwear including leather, foam, rubber, plastics, and textiles by using various fragmentation and separation processes including granulation, air-based, density-based and size-base systems. It currently recovers materials that are considered to be 'down-cycled' and only suitable for low value application such as insulation, construction and surfacing materials. Higher quality and purity of materials can be achieved through repetition of fragmentation and separation processes, but this increases throughput time and hence the overall cost of recycling. While the system has proved thoroughly practical in terms of technology, it needs to operate on a large scale basis in order to become commercially viable.
The successful candidate is expected to investigate novel and advanced recycling sytems in which a range of used products with similar material content can be processed. These systems utilise a series of 'plug and play' interchangable processes to provide flexibility to recycle on the same line leather apparels (including leather luxury good such as handbgas, briefcases, wallets, purses and travelling bags), as well as leather products from other manufacturing sectors such as automotive and furniture industry. This research will benefit from direct involvement of a wide range of relevant stakeholders including footwear manufacturers and retailers, chemical producers and tanners, as well as designers, consumers and charitable organisations.
Primary Supervisor: Professor Shahin Rahimifard (Director, Centre for SMART)
To learn more and apply please visit, www.lboro.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/research-degree/self-funded/circular-economy/