When we talk about fabrics, we tend to talk about the fabrics we can see, but what's about the fabrics we do not see like reinforcements?
We met Alberto Andreu, Founder of Componentes Sostenible, specialist of reinforcement and distributor of Rhenoflex.
- Can you tell us the story of Rhenoflex
It was born 70 years ago in southern Germany. Much has changed since then, but we still have the same desire for innovation. For Rhenoflex, innovation and sustainability go hand in hand. This is why we have become the world leader in reinforcement solutions for footwear and accessories. All of this can be seen in this LinkedIn video.
- What challenges do you face when introducing your sustainable reinforcement solutions in the world of footwear and accessories?
The main challenge is to distance ourselves from greenwashing. Rhenoflex Eco-Level has three groups of sustainable materials according to the percentage of synthetic recycling, bioplastics or natural fillers: one leaf means up to 30% of sustainable content. Two leaves, from 30% to 60%. And three leaves mean the materials have over 60% of sustainable content. The second challenge is to make a sustainable material at market price. There is no point in having a very sustainable product if it's too expensive for most people to buy. Another challenge is to produce materials with the least possible environmental impact. We agree with Patxi from Naturalista: Our goal is to achieve a balance between sustainability, comfort, quality and durability. In our latest project, PalmiElx, we have achieved a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable product.
- In terms of sustainability, how are Rhenoflex shoe reinforcements different from conventional options?
Conventional shoe reinforcements are more polluting because they take a long time to degrade. They are 100% polymers: plastic, in other words. The most sustainable ones have a percentage of recycled plastic, but it's still 100% polluting plastic. Rhenoflex's most sustainable products include organic waste and biodegradable polymers. This combination has made them not only biodegradable but compostable (according to ISO 14855), which means they become compost or fertilizer at the end of their useful life in the landfill.
- What processes and tools do you use to innovate?
We focus on organic waste. For example, in materials with palm tree pruning waste, we work with the city council to organize the collection of this waste, which goes to a company responsible for crushing, drying and grinding it to a specific size. We use the powder to make shoe soles, reducing plastic between 20% to 40%. The largest particles are used for our shoe reinforcements, with 30% palm tree instead of plastic. Until now palm tree pruning waste went to a waste management centre and was turned into compost. The problem is that it costs more to produce the compost than the product itself, a cost that we taxpayers pay. On the other hand, as we have said before, we solve the environmental pollution of landfills by replacing plastic with natural, biodegradable components. Another of our social aspects is our contribution to the maintenance of a world heritage site such as the Palmeral de Elche.
- What would you highlight about Canussa?
María Cano's ability to work with the best professionals around. What I like most about Canussa is their way of being. Their human quality can be applied to the brand. Continuous improvement is in their DNA. They strive to be authentic: if sustainable, be as sustainable as possible. Canussa is transparent, 100% vegan and does not compromise the quality of its products.