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VAPESOL expansion meets demand for recycled solings

How a Portuguese components manufacturer has grown over the years to become a major supplier in its field.

Felgueiras-based footwear solings manufacturer VAPESOL was founded in 1998 by José Pereira, initially with 15 employees and a production capacity of 2,000 pairs per day. Seven years later, the company was in a position to create its own brand and launch a collection. Rapid growth in the number of staff members as well as an expansion in the equipment used and materials offered has led in 2022 to a workforce of more than 100 and over 20,000 soles being made each day. This includes a new EVA soles production unit which has a daily production capacity of 3,000 pairs.

VAPESOL reportedly considers the sustainability of its products and its manufacturing activity as being very important. At the end of 2020, the company achieved certification of its environmental management system in accordance with the requirements of the NP EN ISO 14001:2015 standard.

Gaining recognition

During 2021, VAPESOL became the first Portuguese solings company to obtain product certification under the Global Recycled Standard 4.0 (GRS). This accolade has been awarded for VAPESOL’s soles that are produced in thermoplastic rubber (TR) and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) and which contain at least 56 per cent of pre-consumer recycled material, but can reach up to 100 per cent of recycled content. The certification process involved a considerable VAPESOL team that had the support of the Centro Tecnológico do Calçado de Portugal (Portuguese Footwear Technological Centre – CTCP) in implementing the demanding requirements set out in the GRS standard.

The GRS standard is voluntary and promotes four guiding principles: i) the use of recycled materials in products, ii) compliance with social responsibility practices, iii) compliance with all relevant environmental management requirements, and iv) chemical management and restricted substance control compliance.

The GRS certification of VAPESOL’s TR and TPU soles is said to be an important benefit for its customers, who as a result can meet the recycled component requirements of the big brand owners that use Portugal for the production of their footwear.

The GRS standard is based on the principle of traceability and transparency, which requires VAPESOL to deliver a high level of control over the origin of raw materials, their segregation, processing and dispatch.

During the year to come, VAPESOL reports that it will continue to collaborate with the CTCP in working towards the continuous improvement of both its environmental management system and the sustainability of all the footwear products it manufactures.

Publishing Data

This article was originally published on page 18 of the January 2022 issue of SATRA Bulletin.

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