Plastic waste is a major problem across the world and recycling or reusing it has become one of the major goals in efforts to deal with it. Globally, more than 381 million tonnes of plastic waste are produced annually. Lagos, Nigeria’s megacity of nearly 16 million people, produces between 13,000 and 15,000 tonnes of waste per day; 2,250 tonnes of this plastic waste.

As an environmental scientist with a Masters degree in Environmental Toxicology and Pollution, Fela Akinse wanted to find sustainable ways of containing or reducing the amount of plastic waste in the environment.

“There is over 5 trillion plastic waste floating in our canals and oceans, which can either be a problem or an opportunity. We set out to use our patented technology to make recycled plastic shoes,” said Mr Akinse, the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Salubata.

Plastic does not decompose and therefore, any piece of plastic produced that ends up being dumped in the environment will still be around centuries on. The negative impacts are mostly felt by underserved communities, especially the women.

Salubata has come up with an innovative and stylish way of dealing with plastic waste in an environmentally-friendly way. The Nigerian-based company was formed in 2018 and specialises in making shoes from recycled plastic.

The company strives to make high-quality stylish shoes that are breathable, which means the wearer can do without socks; they don’t need to be washed and take very little effort to maintain. They can also be customised according to the taste and specifications of the customer. This adds to the shoe value and makes customers loyal to the brand.

“Our shoes are cool to wear because of the design. They are also affordable because they cost at least 75 per cent less than what our competitors offer. They are also durable because the soles are flexible,” added the CEO and co-founder.

The company, which is in its early stages, has made tremendous progress and has been able to spread its roots to three major cities in Nigeria; Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt. It has significantly contributed to the circular economies of cities by recycling plastic waste in the environment.

The company relies on word of mouth from customers and social media to raise awareness about it and its innovative products.

“Our mission is to invent lifestyle technology that helps people and the planet through the continuous production of plastic recycled shoes. We are planning to scale our selling points across Africa, France, Germany, Italy, the USA, and Canada,” added Mr Akinse.

The company which employs designers and environmental scientists, has gone further to come up with a way to recycle used shoes and closing the loop to ensure that no shoe goes to waste. For every shoe purchased, 5 per cent of the amount is committed to feeding starving children and empowering women in underserved communities.

Mr Akinse said the project has the potential to scale globally within 5 years from now.

“It is a profitable business and all we need is to scale our operations to become more profitable,” he added.

The company plans to constantly innovate and produce not only shoes, but a wider range of products to become a global brand.