“The VIBRAM Sustainable Way” is a sustainability performance improvement plan that identifies activities and projects to undertake to ensure economic growth while respecting people and the planet. One of the priorities of this plan is to analyse the Product Life Cycle of footwear soles and to quantify its impact on the environment, a methodology called Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). The objectives of an LCA study are to:
The analysis presented in this article is conducted according to the ISO 14026/40/44/47/48/49 standards and in line with the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) methodology. The analysis takes place in the Albizzate plant and focuses on one specific product. The analysis involves the CNR Research Institute and managers from various production areas.
The production of footwear soles can have an impact on the environment in the following ways:
Based on this analytical model, the main factors of environmental impact deriving from the production of footwear soles in the Albizzate plant include (1) raw materials and their origin, (2) consumption during the manufacturing process, (3) emissions, (4) waste, (5) auxiliaries and (6) general consumption up to packaging and transport to the final customer.
This analysis makes it possible to stratify the impact of the various factors on the categories and thus identify the critical parameters.
The environmental profile of a pair of soles is then determined, as well as its potential impact on the shoe it is attached to.
The selected model and its collected data make it possible to develop a sensitivity analysis on specific product and process parameters (mix power supply, use of natural raw materials, compound modification, type of heating press moulding) to identify points of potential improvement with a quantified eco-design approach.
The key results from this analysis can be summarised as follows: