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From whence they came: Timberland plans new recyclable boot

From whence they came: Timberland plans new recyclable boot

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When it updates its Earthkeepers boot line in the fall, Timberland will take another step forward in its corporate environmental commitment. That's be...

When it updates its Earthkeepers boot line in the fall, Timberland will take another step forward in its corporate environmental commitment. That's because up to 80 percent of the new Earthkeepers 2.0 boot can be recycled or reused, if you return it to a Timberland store when you're done with them.

How can the company do this? Because the boots were made with the idea that it should be easy to disassemble them. So, the leather upper will be sent to the company's factory in Dominican Republic for refurbishing; the metal pieces will be removed for possible use in new footwear; even the polyester lining can be recycled. The "Green Rubber" soles will be sent to Georgia for recycling. Green Rubber is made out of recycled tire rubber, and it can be funneled back into products more than once, according to Timberland's press release about this product line.

There are about 40 different SKUs in the Earthkeepers line, and attention has been paid not just to the  materials but to the construction. In fact, this development underscores something that product designers all over the world must be increasingly challenged to keep in the front of their minds: How will this thing end its life? Can it be taken apart quickly? Can components that still have life left to them be used over again? Heck I bet we'll be hearing soon about corporate investments in product "disassembly" lines.

Now, about my Manolo Blahniks ...

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure