Collaboration is key to increasing sustainable material choices
For decades, Sievi has collaborated with Priotec, a Finnish plastic manufacturer who is also one of Fortum’s converter partners. Fortum provides Priotec with recycled plastic raw material, and Priotec converts it into plastic products and components. Sievi was one of Priotec’s first customers, and their fruitful cooperation has been ongoing ever since.
For years now, Sievi has actively increased the use of recycled materials in their products. When Priotec came up with the idea of using Fortum Circo as a raw material in Sievi’s footwear, Sievi was immediately intrigued.
“In the past, we have had to proactively ask our suppliers to increase the use of recycled plastic. The reason we decided to start using Fortum Circo was not only its sustainable sourcing, but also the fact that it is strong enough for our products. Back in the day, recycled plastics used to be less durable, but there has been a lot of development since then,” says Teppo Kemppainen, Sales Director at Sievi.
Improving the sustainability of footwear
With Sievi, the Fortum Circo material will be used in the toe puff of their occupational footwear and shaped according to the shoe last. Occupational shoes are popular in riskier sports such as snowmobiling, for example, and the hard toe puff made from Fortum Circo recycled plastic works similarly to the aluminium toe cap in safety footwear.
“Increasing the amount of recycled plastic in our products is important to us, but it is not as simple as one might think. Since shoes are made from so many different materials, they are tricky to recycle. Replacing components with more sustainable and easily recyclable options is our way of gradually changing the composition of our products,” Kemppainen says.
Extensive testing to ensure long-lasting durability
Safety, durability, and long lifecycle are crucial features in safety and occupational footwear. That is why implementing Fortum Circo in Sievi’s production process was not immediate – first, they had to test the material in many different conditions.
To make sure that Fortum Circo was up to the task, Sievi conducted mechanical testing and other test runs over a one-year period, exposing the material to freezing temperatures and tight compression, for example. The comparatively long testing period was worthwhile, as the material passed the tests with flying colours. The extensive testing proved useful to Priotec, as well.
“Sievi’s tests were a great testament to us as well, proving Fortum Circo’s versatility and durability. From our perspective, one of the material’s best qualities is that it works with existing moulds. Replacing moulds would have been challenging, as every shoe model needs a mould for each foot and every size,” says Mika Liedes, CEO of Priotec.
“We also see Fortum Circo, originating from household plastic packaging, as a great selling point to our customers, because they as consumers have participated in the creation of the material,” Liedes continues.
Finding new applications for recycled plastics
Fortum Circo is made from post-consumer plastic waste, and is thus a sustainable and yet versatile material, which is suitable for different processes and products. Its carbon footprint is half the size of virgin plastics.
“We were really excited to hear that Sievi was interested in bringing Fortum Circo into their production process. LDPE grade of Fortum Circo is traditionally used in film applications such as plastic bags, for example, so this was a new and innovative way to use one of the most common plastic grades,” says Kari Aaltonen, Product Line Specialist, Plastics Recycling at Fortum Recycling & Waste.
Sievi is the largest manufacturer of Safety and Occupational footwear in Northern Europe. The Sievi brand, the mark of quality, offers unsurpassed work safety, fit and wearer comfort. Sievi is continuously working with the latest technology, materials and features to develop the best footwear for work. SIEVI – FINNISH DESIGN AND WORKMANSHIP.
Priotec Oy manages the entire production chain of plastic from an idea to production, storage and recycling. Our core competence is manufacturing plastic products according to the customer’s needs through injection moulding.