Rothy’s recycled plastic knitted shoe

Posted on 22 September 2017.

A young brand founded in 2016 in San Francisco by Martin Roth and Stephen Hawthornthwaite, Rothy's sells beautiful recycled and recyclable flats made from used plastic bottles.

A shoe "knitted" in just six minutes

It took Roth Martin and Stephen Hawthornthwaite three years of R & D to develop the ideal shoe, which in their view best meets both production constraints, and sustainability and circular economy criteria – not to mention their high standards in relation to design and comfort.
The two founders of Rothy’s developed an innovative technique that allows them to make the most of their raw material - plastic bottles. Once recovered, the bottles are stripped of their caps and labels and then sterilized. They are then reduced to flakes and melted before being made into a filament fiber. Shipped to China, the recycled plastic filaments then feed 3D printers, which knit the shoe in one piece in a soft, breathable material. The process is ultra-fast - six minutes to make a pair of shoes!

No offcuts, no waste

Once off the machine, the shoe is almost ready to slip on. It already snugly fits the shape of the foot with no seams, rivets, laces or elastics. Rothy's eco-designed flats use only three materials: the upper, which covers the foot, is made entirely from recycled plastic, as is the insole which is attached to a recyclable foam. The sole is made of natural rubber.

Thanks to 3D printing, the process uses very little raw material, generates almost no offcuts and therefore almost no waste. "Our process allows us to knit three-dimensional parts that use the exact amount of material that they need to use in order to create the part. So, like an inkjet printer, it draws just the amount of ink that it needs to complete that task, and then it repeats the task as needed," Roth Martin told the American magazine Fast Company.
The shoes are machine washable and when they’re worn out, their owner can even ship them to PlusFoam, a start-up specializing in recycling, which will give them a new life (again!).