Sustainable and safe design of footwear integrating ecological footprint and risk criteria

The ecodesign of a product implies that different potential environmental impacts of diverse nature must be taken into account considering its whole life cycle, apart from the general design criteria (i.e. technical, functional, ergonomic, aesthetic or economic). A sustainability assessment methodology, ecological footprint (EF), and environmental risk assessment (ERA), were combined for the 1st time to derive complementary criteria for the ecodesign of footwear. Four models of children’s shoes were analysed and compared. The synthetic shoes obtained a smaller EF(6.5 g-m2) when compared to the leather shoes (11.1 g-m2). However, high concentrations of hazardous substances were detected in the former, even making the Hazard Quotient (HQ) and the Cancer Risk (CR) exceed the recommended safety limits for one of the synthetic models analysed. Risk criteria were prioritised in this case and, consequently, the design proposal was discarded. For the other cases, the perspective provided by the indicators of different nature was balanced to accomplish a fairest evaluation. The selection of fibres produced under sustainable criteria and the reduction of the materials consumption was recommended, since the area requirements would be minimised and the absence of hazardous compounds would ensure safety conditions during the use stage.

Authors: Herva, Marta; Alvarez, Antonio; Roca, Enrique ;Full Sources: Journal of Hazardous Materials [online computer file] 2011, 192(3), 1876-1881 (Eng) ;