Vivienne Westwood recently teamed up with Melissa to create a new shoe collection. “The Fashion Audit: 02/02/09” in The Independent claims that these shoes are made from recycled rubber. The shoe company offers limited information on the details of the environmental factors associated with the plastic. One thing for sure, the shoes, like all Melissa shoes, are made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride). Now, I am no expert on PVC, that’s for sure, but I seem to recall the material being associated with some pretty serious safety and environmental risks. What’s changed? Apparently, at least one PVC manufacturer (Grendene), has been producing sustainable PVC since 1996?
Vancouver based Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) takes a clear stand against the use of PVC in its products. According to MEC,
“Polyvinyl chloride, known as “PVC” or simply as “vinyl”, is a common compound used in thousands of products. But for us and the planet, it’s bad stuff. During manufacture it produces potent carcinogens and toxins including dioxins, chlorine residue, and heavy-metal pollutants. Over their lifespan, PVC products can off-gas and leak some of their dangerous additives. PVC is difficult to recycle; most of it ends up in landfills. When burned, it releases further dioxins and gases such as hydrogen chloride.”
According to Melissa,
“Plastic is the chosen medium to communicate technology and renewal”
“Because our products are created from mono-materials they can be easily disassembled and recycled. Solid, liquid and gas residues, left over from our production process, are recycled and dealt with in-house. Nothing leaves the factory without being treated, resulting in practically zero waste.”
I have sent in an email to the people at Melissa, Vivienne Westwood, and Grendene requesting more information on PVC and will hopefully hear back and write more on the subject at a later date.
You can find “The Fashion Audit: 02/02/09” by Harriet Walker here
You can read more on Melissa’s sustainable plastic dreams, and the designers working with the company here