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How Bridgestone and MMARTINYCA created a new footprint with old tyres


How Bridgestone and MMARTINYCA created a new footprint with old tyres

Earlier this year, Bridgestone announced a new partnership with Spanish start-up MMARTINYCA. The footwear brand was launching limited edition Abarca sandals, with a sole made using 100 per cent recycled Bridgestone tyres. In some ways, this collaboration has returned Bridgestone to its most humble beginnings.

Back to our roots

For Bridgestone’s founder, Shojiro Ishibashi, shoes came long before tyres – they were the family business. Upon taking over that business aged just 17, Ishibashi patented the Jika-tabi – a rubber-soled sock – which proved hugely successful amongst workers in his native Japan. Using funds and his business acumen accumulated from sales of the Jika-tabi, Ishibashi pioneered the tyre industry in Japan by creating the Bridgestone Tyre & Rubber Company. Now, over 100 years later, Bridgestone is revisiting its roots through the partnership with MMARTINYCA.

Like Bridgestone, MMARTINYCA is also returning to a heritage of sorts with the Abarca project. The sandals were originally worn by 19th Century Menorcan fishermen, and MMARTINYCA is reviving this ancient tradition in production as well as design. All of the Abarca sandals are handmade exclusively on the Isle of Menorca using the traditional techniques first developed in the 1800s. But the project isn’t just about keeping heritage and craft alive.

“When MMARTINYCA contacted us to discuss the project, we were incredibly excited because it brought together so many things that are relevant to us as a company – from environmental sustainability to supporting communities,” says Constanza Pasqual, PR and Communications Manager for the South West Region, Bridgestone EMEA.

Fighting social exclusion

MMARTINYCA's mission is to leave a sustainable footprint. For every pair of sandals produced, one non-biodegradable Bridgestone tyre will be used to make the soles. But the ultimate objective of the project is to help build the first-ever basketball courts in the Sahara desert. This end-goal is particularly personal to MMARTINYCA CEO and former professional basketball player, María Martínez. “I’ve seen the impact sport can have in keeping children off the streets, creating social links and helping them understand that obstacles can be overcome. Kids born in the Sahara can rarely benefit from these opportunities,” she says.

Through building the courts, the Abarca project is seeking to enhance the lives of African children at risk of social exclusion – something that is also part of Bridgestone's CSR strategy, ‘Our Way to Serve. As the world’s largest tyre and rubber company, Bridgestone is determined to use its platform and capabilities to benefit people and communities around the world.

Bridgestone is equally concerned with ensuring a healthy environment for current and future generations. And finding a second life for used tyres plays a huge role in that. “At Bridgestone we take great care in doing our best as a company to reduce our carbon footprint. Ensuring that our products are recycled is one of the key ways we are achieving that,” says Pasqual.

In providing the soles for shoes, retired Bridgestone tyres have found new life through the Abarca project – and they are perfect for the job.

The project today

The Abarca project was first launched on crowd-funding site Kickstarter and exceeded all expectations by raising over five times the original goal. After successfully completing its three-month Kickstarter campaign and raising enough capital to go into production, the project now continues on another crowd-funder, Indiegogo.