Innovative graduate creates robotically recycled footwear

9 December 2021

RUEI-01 is a robotically recyclable concept shoe designed as the result of a research project investigating the realities of recycling. 

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Sustainable Product Design BA(Hons) graduate Max Ashwell has created a pair of shoes that can be robotically recycled. 

The concept shoe – RUEI-01 – has been designed to be entirely disassembled by robots. Crucially, the robot can separate the materials with complete accuracy, which isn’t possible with conventional recycling methods.  

Speaking to Design Indaba, Max said “by conventional recycling, objects arrive at facilities as unknown entities, with no communication of ingredients. The waste goods are fed into shredders, smashing objects into smaller pieces which are then attempted to be identified and sorted by countless, painstaking steps, to create separated material ‘fractions’. 

“Endless variants in object compositions mean it is impossible to identify exactly what materials are. This inaccuracy of identification and separation results in huge pools of waste and recycled material of the poorest quality.” 

The poor quality of many recycled products means that demand for ‘new’ products continues, doing further damage to the planet. But Max’s innovative solution could pave the way for a brighter future.  

It’s no surprise to see the Falmouth graduate thriving; Max was named as a finalist at an international design competition run by Nike while studying at university.  

We’re excited to see what the pioneering designer comes up with next. If you'd like to see more examples of Max's work, explore his website.

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