Circular design strategies for work shoes - EMMA Safety Footwear

July 19, 2022

Challenge EMMA Safety Footwear

EMMA Safety Footwear has a rich history of positive social impact. Since its foundation in 1931, it has been employing people with a distance to the labor market. In recent years EMMA has not only been focusing on its social impact. Sustainability has now also become a high priority. Since 2015, EMMA has been working to make its entire collection - consisting of more than 90 models of work shoes - circular.


Roadmap for circularity

EMMA Safety Footwear produces quality work shoes for many different sectors. From construction and industry to healthcare and hospitality. These work shoes are used intensively. In fact, for the toughest professions they are replaced up to once a year.

Since 2015, EMMA has been aware of the valuable raw materials it uses in its shoes. Think for example of steel toe caps, steel sole plates, but also the leather. In that year EMMA already participated in a CIRCO Class with a design case for the Amazon shoe: the first circular work shoe.

From then on, a roadmap for circularity was also established. In 5 years, a lot of important circular milestones have been achieved there. For example, EMMA now has a materials passport for its more than 90 models of work shoes. And, together with a competitor, it has founded the Circular Footwear Alliance. In this way, they enable return logistics for recycling the shoes.

In this video, Iris van Wanrooij - Program Manager Corporate Social Responsibility - explains what EMMA has accomplished so far in the area of circularity.



Shoes as a Service

In the near future, EMMA wants to focus strongly on a new business model: Shoes as a Service. Customers will no longer pay for the purchase and possession of the shoe, but rather for its use. This offers opportunities to build up long-term relationships with customers and the certainty that the shoes will be returned.

Read more about this case You go to a Dutch version



The circular economy does not arise by itself. CIRCO (a program of TKI-CLICKNL) focuses on getting a new market moving. CIRCO therefore activates - with the support of the government - entrepreneurs and creative professionals to (re)design products, services and business models in order to then do circular business.

View profile

Read more about

You may also find this interesting


Regular events are organised around various circular design themes

View the agenda

Stay Informed

Expert knowledge, helpful information and more. Straight to your inbox.