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Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Friday 03 November 2023

University Of Brighton Graduate Creates World's First Recycled Trainers Made From Disused F1 Racing Tyres

University of Brighton graduate Alex Witty has unveiled a ground-breaking new brand of sneakers, designed to revolutionise both the motorsport and footwear industries' approach to sustainability.

Compound Footwear sneakers use waste motorsport tyres, eco leather and recycled materials to create a unique, recyclable solution to the environmental pollution generated by both fast-fashion and tyre waste, where 22 billion shoes end up in landfill and a billion tyres reach the end of their lives each year.

Compound Footwear was founded by 25-year-old Alex Witty from Bath, who was studying Sustainable Product Design at the University of Brighton during the 2020 Covid lockdown.

Alex said: 

"As the university facilities were closed due to Covid, it forced me to convert my bedroom into a workshop, where I was recycling materials such coffee and ocean plastic in rows of panini presses and melting seaweed polymers in the student kitchen. I wasn't winning any Flatmate of the Year awards that year!

"It was during this time that the Australian Grand Prix was cancelled and I heard that 1,800 brand-new tyres were scrapped and shipped back to the UK to be incinerated. 

"I was shocked to find out that most motorsport tyres are burnt after each race and felt that surely I could find a better use for them.

"Over the past two years, I've engaged with tyre manufacturers, shoe producers, material scientists and race series organisers, including Formula 1 and Formula E.  

"I've done extensive research and testing of tyre recycling methods, delved into devulcanisation, micronisation and cryogenic grinding, and explored other motorsport waste materials, such as scrap carbon fibre, race suits and motorsport clothing, where 25% of source materials typically go to waste as factory off-cuts.

"Our motorsport-inspired sneakers are made using a patented process to combine used race tyre rubber with recycled natural rubber to create the shoe soles.  

"The uppers are made from waste leather and recycled polyester lining and laces. At the end of their natural life, Compound Footwear sneakers can be recycled into 100% reusable raw materials to make new shoes and products.

"Our objective is to avoid the use of virgin fossil fuels, reduce the number of different materials that make most sneakers un-recyclable, and incorporate sustainable, recycled materials that not only reduce environmental impact, but are also an attractive step towards a cleaner, greener future.

"My sneaker journey has so far taken me to Bahrain, Italy, Spain, Germany and Portugal for shoe making courses, meetings and collaboration talks with world-leading industry experts. 

"I've also investigated polyester recycling techniques to create new yarns from waste motorsport clothing to create knitted sneaker uppers, a process that"s still in development."

Compound Footwear's launch coincides with a growing sustainability push in the tyre and motorsport industries, particularly Formula 1, which has committed to achieving Net Zero Carbon status by 2030.

It has received substantial support from the world of motorsport, as well as funding from Innovate UK, Santander and Verizon amongst others.

To be in pole position to bag a pair of these unique, hand-crafted motorsport sneakers, visit www.compoundfootwear.com and take a step into the future of footwear.

by: Mike Cobley




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