WAES: the World's First and Only Plastic-Free Footwear Company

Editorial TeamEditorial Team
November 2nd, 2022
11:55 AM

WAES Footwear launched sneakers that are 100% plastic-free and leave absolutely no waste behind. 

The planet's concern about plastic pollution and the climate emergency is growing, says WAES. Each year, the global footwear industry produces more than 20 billion pairs of impossible-to-recycle shoes containing plastic, enough to circle the globe 300 times.

WAES Footwear is fully biodegradable and sustainably designed, with fully transparent supply chains and pricing. WAES claims to be proud to present the world's first sustainable, plastic- and waste-free sneaker collection. The soles are made of sap from rubber trees, the uppers are made of organic cotton and vegetable-tanned leather, the stitching is hemp, linen and cotton, and the adhesive is a conifer resin.



How Are They Made?

Based in Portugal, the WAES footwear team has reused an artisanal production technology to produce the shoe soles, using a traditional curing process that dates back to the Mayan era. The soles are made from sap sourced from rubber trees grown on FSC-certified plantations in Southeast Asia.

The shoe uppers are made from organic GOTS cotton and organically-tanned leather from Italy, with no metal content, no finishing or toxic fixatives, the stitching is hemp, linen and cotton, the adhesive is a conifer resin and even the packaging is FSC-certified and reusable.

Scientists in Germany have found that shoe sole abrasion is the seventh largest contributor of microplastics to the environment at 109 gms. per person each year.

Co-founder Ed. Temperley believes that recycling will not solve the problem of plastic pollution, but that products should be plastic-free and waste-free from the start. He says that microplastics have penetrated every corner of our environment, and we're ingesting them every day. In fact, shoe sole abrasion is a major cause of virgin microplastics.



WAES has a vision for a world of waste-free footwear. Most shoes end up in landfills or incinerators, so we must adopt design solutions with a cradle-to-cradle philosophy whereby materials can be cleanly reused or go to compost at the end of the product's useful life.

WAES Footwear was launched in 2019 by Ed Temperley alongside Damian Quinn, who worked with 20 footwear brands throughout his career.

In September 2019, the World Footwear Yearbook released statistics from APICCAPS (Portuguese Association of Footwear, Components, Leather Goods Manufacturers), stating that global footwear production in 2018 was 23.5 billion pairs, a 2% growth from 2016. A large percentage of these have at least synthetic soles.

Research published by the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology in Germany (June 2018) found that shoe sole abrasion is the seventh largest contributor of microplastics to the environment at 109 g per person per year.

WAES Footwear sells directly to customers through its online store. The shoes are unisex and sold in all sizes in both black and white chrome-free leather and 12-ounce organic canvas. The name WAES is an acronym for Water, Air, Earth and Sun, the four elements we need to continue to exist on this planet in harmony. It represents the brand's commitment to using only natural materials, proving that it is possible to eliminate plastic from the supply chain and look good doing it.