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FAQ - Circular Footwear Alliance


1. General

  • What is the Circular Footwear Alliance?
    The CFA is a collaboration between manufacturers aimed at creating an entirely circular system for work and safety shoes. By jointly collecting, disassembling and recycling used work and safety shoes, all of the raw materials will ultimately be reused.
  • Who are the initiators of the CFA?
    EMMA Safety Footwear, Allshoes Safety Footwear and FBBasic founded the CFA. The alliance’s intention is to permit other manufacturers and supply chain partners to join starting in 2021.
  • Why is circularity so important (for work and safety shoes)?
    We are seeing many raw materials being increasingly depleted at the global level. In addition, the manufacturing of new work and safety shoes and the disposal of used pairs have a negative effect on the environment and hence on climate and biodiversity. A circular economy ensures retention of recycled raw materials through improved product design and organisation of raw materials recovery, like the CFA is doing. All this makes a positive contribution to the environment.
  • What are the benefits of participating in the CFA for me as a customer?
    We believe that customers primarily participate in a circular system because they themselves see the importance of sustainability and circularity. What’s more, sustainable and circular purchasing will become increasingly mandatory. The CFA will help you become and remain compliant with upcoming laws and regulations. Furthermore, the CFA offers you the opportunity to work on your own sustainability goals. We will help show you the positive impact you’re making within your organisation and for your customers. In this vein, participation in the CFA will ultimately also increase your competitive edge on the market.
  • What happens to the products I hand in?
    The collected shoes are collected, sorted and taken apart at a central location. Raw materials are then recovered from the disassembled shoes using existing and new recycling techniques. These raw materials are reused for new products.  Although these are currently mainly low-value applications, we are striving to incorporate these raw materials into the production of new safety shoes.
  • Are all shoe brands that are returned recycled?
    Yes, as long as it concerns work and safety shoes, all shoes, regardless of brand, are recycled by the CFA. However, not all brands are equally recyclable. Because recyclability is often not taken into account in the design of shoes, some shoes are difficult to disassemble or the quality of the raw materials recovered is low. This quality determines whether the material can be reused as a raw material. During this process, we pay attention to applicability, the costs of recycling and, above all, whether we are not reintroducing wrong, unhealthy or toxic materials into a cycle. We call this passive recycling: we try to make the best of it afterwards. This also means that some of the materials from the returned shoes are burned in a waste incinerator, or used as secondary fuel in a cement kiln or in district heating processes.

    Since our aim is to use the recovered raw materials for the production of high-quality applications, such as in the manufacture of new safety shoes, we call on our partners to purchase work and safety shoes that are designed with circularity in mind. Both EMMA and Allshoes are increasingly integrating circular principles into their product ranges.

  • Why can’t the participating brands organise this independently?
    Sufficient scale is necessary for qualitative and profitable recycling of raw materials. That is why Allshoes and EMMA have joined forces. Both manufacturers are still competitors in the work and safety shoe market, but within the CFA they together create sufficient scale for achieving a circular system in practice.

2. Operations and investment

  • I want to get involved with circular work and safety shoes. What’s the first step?
    You can register here. We will determine how many collection points your organisation needs and will send you CFA Boxes so you can start collecting used work and safety shoes. The entire process is extremely simple and requires very little effort.

    We do, however, ask that you invest in circular work and safety shoes. After all, these are shoes that can be recycled well. In this way, we are taking steps towards a world without waste together.
  • How are the shoes collected?
    We use parcel post. We ask that you collect used work and safety shoes in our CFA Box or CFA Box Pallet. DHL Parcel Services will collect the shoes when the Boxes are full.
  • What should I do when the collected shoes need to be picked up?
    When your CFA Box or CFA Box Pallet is full, you can register these for return with DHL. You will be given DHL labels to place on the Box or Pallet. And that’s all you have to do. Of course, we will give you a detailed manual as soon as you start collecting the shoes and also offer you over-the-phone support if you have any questions.
  • Are all shoes eligible for collection?
    No, only work and safety shoes should be collected; so no athletic shoes, for example. However, work and safety shoes of all brands can be handed in.
  • May I also return other used products?
    No, at the moment the CFA is only accepting work and safety shoes.
  • What is my investment for this service provision?
    Although our long-term goal is to finance our services with the value of the recovered raw materials, the return logistics and recycling of work and safety shoes are still associated with costs in this phase. Information about rates and conditions is available at,or email your questions to

3. Impact

  • What impact will I make by investing in the CFA’s circular products and systems?
    Circular products and systems negate the necessity for continued acquisition of raw materials. Raw materials are being increasingly depleted worldwide, so recycling in and of itself is extremely positive. Less raw materials extraction also means less water and energy consumption and decreased greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, your investment in the circular economy will help create new job opportunities, such as in the disassembly and recycling of work and safety shoes.
  • I would like to share the impact I am making by joining the CFA with my customers and colleagues. Is that possible?
    A circular system has a positive impact on sustainability goals. There are numerous ways how we will let you know your impact.

    1. For each registered parcel of used work and safety shoes you will receive a confirmation of receipt, including insight into the impact you are making with that parcel.
    2. Every year we will send you a comprehensive report showing the achieved reduction in energy, water and raw materials consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
    3. On our website we illustrate the total positive impact that all CFA participants are making as a group.
  • Our company monitors its contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals. Do you support this initiative?
    We monitor our impact using KPIs linked to specific Sustainable Development Goals. We focus on the following four goals:

    • Goal 9: industry, innovation and infrastructure;
    • Goal 12: responsible production and consumption;
    • Goal 13: climate action;
    • Goal 17: partnership for jointly achieving targets.

We use these SDGs to show the positive impact of each individual participant and of the CFA as a whole. On this site we regularly communicate results, and the impact assessments you receive as an individual participant are hence also linked to the SDGs.

4. Products and other future partners

  • I am a manufacturer of work and safety shoes. Can I join the CFA?
    The CFA is an open cooperative whose members believe in broad collaboration. In 2020 the CFA hopes to roll out a network of collection points and amass knowledge and experience. This will be followed by the express invitation to other manufacturers and partners to participate in the alliance, provided that they also wish to embark on the path to circular products and concepts. Would you like to become a part of our inner circle? You can. Simply send an email to or contact Allshoes, EMMA or FBBasic.
  • I am a distributor of work and safety shoes. Can I join the CFA?
    The CFA is first and foremost a cooperative for manufacturers of work and safety shoes, but as a distributor you too can play an important role in a circular system. We allow distributors to offer our concept to their customers either directly or through us. We invite you to contact us at to discuss potential collaboration.
  • I am a manufacturer of other products and want to offer my customers return logistics. Can I join the CFA?
    At the moment the CFA is only accepting work and safety shoes. If you are interested in return logistics for other products, we can use our network to put you in contact with parties that are focused on other product categories. Please contact us at to discuss further.