The footwear factory is manufacturing sector that utilizes a wide variety of materials and processes to produce a range of distinctly different products, from sandals to more specialized footwear. Currently, more than 19 billion pairs of shoes are produced worldwide every year. This creates a large waste stream at the end of the functional life of shoes, which are often disposed of in landfills.
Producer responsibility concerns, forthcoming legislation and increasingly environmentally conscious consumers are expected to challenge the way the gloabl footwear industry is dealing with its end-of-life (EoL) products. This paper highlights the potential benefits of developing a footwear product recovery methodology and an associated software tool to suport decision-making to determine the most suitable (in environmental, economic and social-technical terms) manner in which to treat post-consumer shoe waste. Such a methodology, in addition to supporting design and material selection processes, could also provide benchmark information for the selection of the best EoL practice for a selected range of different shoe types. The paper concludes by providing a computational viewpoint of an EoL shoe recovery decision support tool.