Tomas Bata University in Zlín

Footwear Research Centre

The best result of TBU for the year 2022 was obtained by footwear researcher

Research institutions in the Czech Republic undergo annual evaluations by the Research, Development and Innovation Council of the Government of the Czech Republic. They are based on the results achieved in various categories.

Module 1 of the M17+ Methodology represents a very important evaluation of the selected results from an international perspective, with a focus on quality, originality, and significance.

The evaluation process involves assessing a limited number of selected results, which the research institution nominates in two categories.

The first category is based on the main criterion of the benefits for assessing knowledge in the given fields, while the second category is based on social relevance or significance for society, including its possible economic effects. Social relevance is understood in terms of usefulness.

Industrial research is primarily evaluated based on its economic benefits and necessity. The results were selected from nearly 6,000 TBU outputs registered in the RIV database for the period between 2017 and 2021.

TBU submitted 18 results to the evaluation system, which the committee rated on a scale ranging from world-leading to below-average.

Only one result was classified as grade 1, 16 results were classified with grades 2 to 4, and one result was assessed as below-average.

For the first time in the Social relevance category, TBU received a “world-leading” evaluation for Patent No. 309038 “Biodegradable walking shoes”, which is followed by other patents, namely Patent No. 309039 “Biodegradable sports shoes”, Patent No. 309040 “Biodegradable flip-flop type sandal shoes” and an EU patent application No. 22718581.6.

The proposed solution anticipates the production of shoes solely from biodegradable materials that are compostable at the end of their functional life. The importance of the output is essential in terms of circular economy and sustainability of the processes.

Every year, over 30 billion pairs of shoes are produced, and after the end of use, they become mixed municipal waste. Footwear is classified as municipal waste due to its composition, which represents difficult-to-recycle materials. The materials that are the least environmentally friendly include chrome-tanned leather, softened PVC or synthetic rubber, or materials used in special footwear applications. Separation of interconnected components according to material types is economically and technologically inefficient. Therefore, used footwear is further processed as mixed municipal waste and either landfilled or incinerated.

On average, people use between 3 and 4 pairs of shoes per year, but their lifespan is significantly reduced. Nowadays, most shoes are treated as seasonal items, and long-term durability is not required. As a result, footwear is gradually becoming a product with a defined lifespan.

The proposed solution assumes the production of shoes using biodegradable materials that can be turned into compostable bio-waste after use.

The development of this solution involved researchers from three organizations: Tomas Bata University in Zlín, represented by Ing. Tomáš Sáha, Ph.D.; Moravia Plast s.r.o. Zlín, represented by Ing. Pavel Kubina and Jakub Janoš; and Epur s.r.o Brodzany, a Slovak company represented by Ing. Igor Vanko.

Epur Brodzany has now become a manufacturer of biodegradable footwear.

The manufactured biodegradable footwear consists of a textile upper that has a sewn-on insole and a sole with an integrated insole attached to the upper. The upper is constructed from biodegradable woven cotton fabric, with seams made of threads that, as well as the shoe laces, are made exclusively of biodegradable fibers. The stitched insole is either cotton or linen. The outsole is based

on reactive biodegradable polyurethane, which enables the attachment of the upper without the need for gluing.

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