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Ccilu turns TSMC's silicon waste into eco-friendly shoes

11/25/2023 01:37 PM
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Ccilu CEO Wilson Hsu showcases the eco-friendly shoes made from silicon waste during a recent interview with CNA. CNA photo Nov. 25, 2023
Ccilu CEO Wilson Hsu showcases the eco-friendly shoes made from silicon waste during a recent interview with CNA. CNA photo Nov. 25, 2023

Taipei, Nov. 25 (CNA) Ccilu International Inc., a Taiwan-based footwear brand, has become the first company in the world to turn silicon waste from contract chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) into eco-friendly shoes.

In 2022, the global footwear industry saw the first pair of pressure-relief slippers made from recycled silicon waste by Ccilu hit the market.

The brand continued to unveil the follow-up collections, including sports shoes and massage slippers made of the same materials.

In a recent interview with CNA, Ccilu CEO Wilson Hsu (許佳鳴) recalled the company's innovations of the first pair of silicon waste-turned slippers as its silicon waste treatment partner Semisils Applied Materials Corp. approached him about the possible use of recycled silicon waste from TSMC and other semiconductor suppliers as shoe materials for the first time.

"I was just wondering about Ccilu's possible purchases of TSMC's silicon waste and turning the recycled materials into eco-friendly footwear," Hsu said. "TSMC has been dubbed the 'sacred mountain' to protect Taiwan and why would Ccilu not roll out 'sacred shoes' made of TSMC's silicon waste."

Before founding Ccilu in 2012, Hsu worked for over a decade as an executive with Citibank.

According to Hsu, his company and Semisils Applied Materials spent several years to allow the first pair of pressure relief slippers to make its debut.

Hsu said one pair of Ccilu's silicon waste slippers can cut the consumption of crude oil by 0.5 liters, and lower carbon emissions by one kilogram.

The Ccilu eco-friendly shoes. CNA photo Nov. 25, 2023
The Ccilu eco-friendly shoes. CNA photo Nov. 25, 2023

On the back of its efforts to take advantage of silicon waste, Ccilu won the National Sustainable Development Awards from Taiwan's National Council for Sustainable Development in 2023 to symbolize its contribution to an environmentally friendly ecosystem.

Hsu admitted that Ccilu's silicon waste-turned-footwear failed to receive a warm reception, although he had faith that a sustainable innovation has great potential to grow.

"Many people want to own TSMC's shares, but not all of them like to buy silicon waste-turned shoes in particular as Ccilu's products are not cheap at all," Hsu said. A pair of pressure relief slippers carry a price tag ranging between NT$1,880 (US$59.68) and NT$2,080.

"We are aware that we need more time to let consumers have a better understanding about the innovation and accept the concept of a circular economy, wearing silicon waste-turned shoes," Hsu said.

"A circular economy needs all in the public to participate in to grow. We know it will not be an easy journey to go but we will be persistent to move ahead," Hsu said.

Ccilu was not an instant successful story, Hsu said, referring to wrong business strategies that led to massive losses due to stagnant sales and high inventory levels, prompting him to consider a possible closure.

However, Hsu said he decided to restructure Ccilu's business in 2017 by devoting the company's efforts to technology development to become an eco-friendly brand and compete in the global market.

Ccilu CEO Wilson Hsu talks about the restructuring of Ccilu's business during a recent interview with CNA. CNA photo Nov. 25, 2023
Ccilu CEO Wilson Hsu talks about the restructuring of Ccilu's business during a recent interview with CNA. CNA photo Nov. 25, 2023

Before the launch of the first silicon waste-turned slippers, Ccilu used other waste materials such as coffee grounds and recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles to produce shoes.

Ccilu unveiled its first pair of eco-friendly white shoes made from coffee grounds in the first half of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world.

Hsu said while the pandemic silenced global business activity, his company turned to online marketing and sales to promote Ccilu's environmental protection ideas and seek support for the company's efforts.

For the production of the first shoes made from coffee grounds, Ccilu raised more than NT$10 million in funds in Taiwan.

In the second half of 2020, Ccilu launched another pair of eco-friendly rainboots made from 15 recycled PET bottles after raising NT$22.50 million in funds.

Ccilu's innovations have attracted international companies to seek cooperation, including entertainment brand Warner Bros, which teamed up with the Taiwanese company to produce co-brand shoes for "Wonder Woman" and "Batman."

Meanwhile, Ccilu has also become a partner of the PGA Tour to roll out golf shoes made of ocean waste.

Ccilu CEO Wilson Hsu and some of the Ccilu eco-friendly shoes. CNA photo Nov. 25, 2023
Ccilu CEO Wilson Hsu and some of the Ccilu eco-friendly shoes. CNA photo Nov. 25, 2023

In addition to the current collections of eco-friendly shoes, Hsu said Ccilu is developing pyrolysis technologies in a bid to turn used shoes into fuel for power generation which is expected to provide electricity for shoe production.

On its website, Ccilu said the brand was ranked as one of the top 30 Fastest-Growing Companies to watch by Global Business Leaders Magazine in 2022 before CIO Views Magazine included Ccilu on the 10 Most Innovative Business Leaders to Follow list and Business Weekly featured Ccilu on the list of Top 100 Decarbonization Company in Taiwan in 2021.

In 2020, Red Herring Global listed Ccilu among North America's Top 100 Innovative Companies, the company said. Since 2018, the European Forum "World Design Rankings" has listed Ccilu as the World's No. 1 Design Company in the footwear industry, according to Ccilu.

(By Pan Tzu-yu and Frances Huang)

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