After more than a year and a half's work, we are pleased to announce the launch of our first model equipped with a sole made from old, recycled Benjie shoes. It's a minor achievement, given the scale of today's climate change challenge, but it's a major step forward in terms of recycling, and fundamental to our understanding of the issues involved.

 A quick reminder: the original observation and the resulting project

The question of increasing the lifespan of our shoes has been with us since the creation of the brand. It's a paradoxical issue in the children's equipment industry, and particularly in footwear. 

And why is that? Quite simply because children very often change sizes and, unlike clothes, they very often end up out of use because they are too worn to be reused. What's more, they've been worn intensively (most of the time, children only have one main pair of shoes, unlike clothes, which they alternate between) and the arch of the foot is deformed by their feet. It becomes difficult to pass the shoe on to another child because of the risk of discomfort, or even worse, of deforming the arch of the foot.

Conclusion: it's just one more piece of waste, and that's precisely the problem with our current economic system: we're accumulating waste. Recycling is therefore a key issue, but it's not a simple one. A shoe is made up of more than fifteen different materials. How do you recycle all that? Despite our research, we've always come back to the same point: whether it's because the cost is too high or because of the loss of quality, it's currently impossible to make a new shoe that's entirely recycled (read more here).

The idea for the sole came from elimination

So we tried to get round the problem by taking waste for what it is: raw material. If it is currently impossible to create a new shoe that is entirely recycled, why not focus on just one part of it? And it's the sole that we've turned our attention to. The rubber that makes up the sole is a material that is often mixed. There are several mixtures at the base of the 'paste' used to make the sole. By including some waste in this paste, we can find a way of recycling it.


To carry out such a project, we had to make specific insole moulds and do a lot of research. For a small company like ours, it was difficult to invest, which is why we launched a crowdfunding campaign in June 2022 that enabled us to raise nearly CHF 34,000! Thanks to you, we were able to manufacture the moulds for the new recycled soles.

All the steps involved in turning a used shoe into a new one

From the collection of used Benjie shoes to their return to Portugal and the manufacture of the soles that go into the final shoe, here are all the stages in a complex process in which everyone has a role to play: the consumer, the brand, the logistics partner and the factory.



Every day, you bring us your used Benjie shoes. We always explain to our customers that we are not "sponsoring" this donation. Our aim is not to encourage you to buy a new shoe and run a disguised marketing operation. 

We hope to stimulate a new consumer reflex which, as in the case of PET, naturally encourages us to return used goods to their source or, perhaps in the future, via an institutionalised collection system, for recycling. 

It's a win-win project in which both the customer and the brand make an effort to reduce waste.


Once the shoes have been sorted by us, we donate those that can be repaired to the Caritas / CSP Genève social cloakroom.

Shoes that are too damaged are stored by us and sent back to Portugal when we receive a delivery of new shoes. So no empty returns!


Crushed Benjie powder + recycled natural rubber + recycled synthetic rubber. These three materials are used to create a robust, high-quality sole that makes the most of our used Benjie.

Crushed Benjies

Grinded Benjie powder: once in Portugal, our shoes are given a second life, in the same factory where they were made the first time.

The first step is to grind them into a powder. Everything is crushed except the metal. The fibres, leather and initial rubber form a compact, amalgamated mixture.

Recycled natural rubber

This powder alone is not enough. It has to be mixed with rubber to regain satisfactory elasticity and resistance properties. We chose recycled natural rubber because it is the best material to guarantee these properties.

Recycled synthetic rubber

We finish the mix with scraps of recycled synthetic rubber. This has the advantage of avoiding the consumption of an additional natural raw material, and synthetic rubber has some great properties, not least its lightness.


This material is then injected into high-temperature moulds and removed from the mould like a cake. We launched our crowdfunding campaign to finance the purchase of these moulds. The new sole is tested for its properties and complies with European Union anti-toxicity standards: MACH.


The new insole carries two certifications of recycling authenticity:

- Global Recycling Standard

- RCS 100 Reclycled Claim Standard

To find out more about the first, read this blog post. 

The second is new to Benjie. It is not part of our B-Corp certification. As in the article on materials in which we drew up an inventory of our various labels, we feel it is important to present them to you, with their strengths and weaknesses.

On the plus side, the RCS (Recycled Claim Standard) is a proven traceability system for recycled raw materials in the supply chain. Developed by the OIA's Materials Traceability Working Group, it is based on the requirements of the CCS (Content Claim Standard). The RCS standard verifies the presence and quantity of recycled components in end products. The chain of custody is verified by a third party to ensure the transparency and accuracy of claims for recycled products.

On the weak side, the important thing is in the detail: it's the presence of the term "100". RCS 100 means that at least 95% of the material is recycled. There is also the "recycled blend" label, but this means that only part of the blend is recycled, and it doesn't say how much, between 5% and 94.9%! That's very low...

It should also be noted that, as with GRS, its shortcoming is that it does not certify the raw materials themselves, or the social or legal issues involved.


After more than two years of work and research, we're delighted to present our very first shoe with a recycled sole: the Widnau Recycled Sole, available in two colours, blue and gold.

This shoe is no exception to the quality and structure of all our other models. The only thing that's different, and not the least, is that the sole is made from recycled shoes.

We can only be proud of this and grateful to you for believing in our project! Without your help, it would not have been possible.


Although all the used Benjie shoes you bring back to us are fully recycled (except for the metal), for the moment we have limited ourselves to the production of the soles, which are only made up of 40% crushed shoes. For strength's sake, we still need to incorporate other materials, albeit recycled, which puts a brake on our circularity approach.

So all this is just a small step. To achieve a 100% recycling loop, we'll have to completely reinvent the design of the shoe and, to be frank, that's a challenge that's out of our reach at the moment.

We are obliged to make a fundamental aside here to understand the limits of recycling, limits which we are also confronted with. They are based on the laws of thermodynamics discovered by Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot in 1824. They state that energy is constant in quantity and can therefore be neither created nor destroyed, but only transformed (law of conservation) or moved from one system to another in the universe. The same applies to matter. However, its quality is inexorably deteriorating (law of entropy) and its recycling potential is diminishing. So we need to keep up our efforts to recycle, but be aware that it's not a miracle solution either.

On the positive side, we've found that this project has been very inspiring, both for us and for our community. Our customers like to take part in the recycling process, it's even become a reflex. This shows that through a process of recycling education (for us, the brands, and for the consumer), a change in practice is entirely possible! It's encouraging in these times when ecological defeatism sometimes takes over!

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