European footwear industry discusses sustainability

Published:  16 October, 2014

The third meeting of the Leonardo Project “Step to Sustainability” took place in Poiana Brasov, Romania on the September 4-5, in connection with the 15th Romanian Textiles and Leather Conference. The EU partners, led by the Footwear Technology Centre of Portugal, met to present the results of a survey on what European footwear companies know, do and need for sustainable manufacturing.

The European Confederation of the Footwear Industry (CEC) presented the results of a survey carried out to assess the interests and needs of the European footwear companies in terms of sustainability and the activities already in place. Out of 80 companies interviewed, 64% declared not to have a strategy in terms of sustainability, but were very interested in learning more, while 70% said they had a shortage of skilled workers, particularly in the production area. The majority of the companies also recognised the lack employee knowledge of innovative materials and energy saving.

The efforts are now concentrated on identifying the competences and skills needed, and developing the necessary curriculum for sustainable footwear production. During the meeting, the Spanish Footwear Technological Centre, INESCOP, discussed the need to create a new occupation and qualification profile in terms of sustainability in the footwear industry with the possibility to be integrated in different national qualification frameworks. By the end of September 2014, a final draft of the new occupational profile “Expert in Sustainable Footwear Manufacturing” was finalised, while the different modules of the necessary training programme have started to materialise.

The partners of the “Step to Sustainability” project will meet again in February 2015 in Brno, Czech Republic at the international fair KABO, where the Czech Footwear and Leather Association (COKA) will present a further step towards sustainability in the footwear industry.