WAES Footwear, the world's first plastic-free footwear company, won the award for Design Innovation at the Plastic Free Awards hosted by Surfers Against Sewage and Iceland.
In 2019, WAES was founded by Ed Temperley and Damien Quinn to offer an alternative to the 24 billion pairs of shoes made every year from plastic compounds that go straight to landfill. WAES makes truly sustainable shoes using only natural materials that are biodegradable and leave no trace.
WAES HQ is based in the UK and Portugal, and the shoes themselves are manufactured in Porto, where co-founder Damian Quinn manages the production.
"WAES is the culmination of a lifetime working within sustainable footwear design and development." Said Damian. "It's rewarding to see our team's efforts be recognised. There is a long way to go to get plastic-free shoes on the feet of the world, but that challenge is what we have set ourselves."
The awards ceremony brought together environmental activists and community leaders from around the world. People from all walks of life, including young campaigners, small businesses, sports clubs and schools, were recognised for their outstanding contributions to the plastic-free movement.
Head judge Lucy Siegle hosted the evening, alongside our expert panel of judges which included the likes of BBC Wildlife presenter Gillian Burke, professional surfer and scientist Dr Cliff Kapono and environmental activist Ella Daish.
With thirteen award categories, all areas of the plastic-free movement were honoured. The most prestigious award, named the Sir Malcolm Walker Award, was bestowed on one overall winner and the person deemed the biggest influencer on plastics, lawyer and environmentalist Afroz Shah. The winners were presented with a beautiful steam bent wooden trophy designed by local Cornish artist Tom Raffield.
Head judge Hugo Tagholm said: "As the clouds of the pandemic start to lift, it is time to celebrate these environmental heroes, champions and community leaders. They are the ones turning a problem into an opportunity to reshape the world around us for a more sustainable, brighter, greener future. Kudos to everyone playing their part, from the beach front to the boardroom. Today is your day. This decade is your decade. This is the decade of change."
Head Judge Lucy Siegle said: “Congratulations to all our incredible winners you all do amazing work and are leading the change the world needs much more of. We are hugely optimistic about the future, thanks to you.”
We would like to thank the Plastic Free Awards sponsors – Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation, Knight Frank and Finisterre. We would also like to thank Tom Raffield, Easkey Britton, and the Plastic Free Awards judges Lucy Siegle, Richard Walker, Hugo Tagholm, Gillian Burke, Lizzie Daly, Sian Sutherland, Liz Bonin, Dr Paula Owen, Dr Cliff Kapono, Ella Daish and Dan Crockett. Special thanks to the incredible winners and all who entered.