In Quintana Roo, sargassum seaweed is a curse, but for a Guanajuato inventor it has the potential to become environmentally friendly footwear.
A new line of eco-shoes — made with recycled plastic and sargassum — has been designed by the firm Renovare, which had already spent several years experimenting with PET plastic.
Renovare founder Jorge Castro Ramos told the newspaper El Financiero that it took the company five years of trial and error to reach the stage where it could obtain clothing-grade textile fibers out of recycled plastic bottles.
The resulting polyester, he explained, has been patented as a Mexican product and can also be used to manufacture handbags, backpacks and sportswear.
Last year the company began working with sargassum, and about eight months ago came up with a shoe whose sole was made with 100 grams of sargassum and the rest with five recycled plastic bottles.
Along with being an environmentally-friendly product, the shoe is also water-resistant. Renovare estimates that a pair can last up to two years, after which the shoes can be returned to Renovare for recycling.
The manufacturing process has been certified by several research centers, including the Center for Innovation Applied to Competitive Technologies (Ciatec), an agency that operates under the National Science and Technology Council (Conacyt).
While the sargassum and recycled plastic shoe has yet to hit the market, Renovare has been working to build demand. The next step is to hire up to 150 people and turn out 20,000 shoes a month.
In the meantime, the company has to work out the means of collecting and processing the seaweed.
Renovare is not alone in having found something useful to do with the unwanted weed, hundreds of tonnes of which have arrived on Quintana Roo beaches in recent years, threatening tourism and the environment.
A Puerto Morelos businessman has built a house with it and is now planning a sargassum-brick hotel in Tulum.
Source: El Financiero (sp)