The joint project between Vinehealth Australia and Stephanie Small of Small Design Co, to develop a shoe cover solution for vineyards and other industries is moving forward, with discussions now occurring with sustainable manufacturers in Adelaide and interstate.

“We’re looking for an Australian-based and hopefully SA-based manufacturing partner who can deliver a sustainable, compostable product,” Stephanie said.

“We’re talking to companies that supply biodegradable produce bags and other products made out of food waste and other recycled materials, to learn what we can about the manufacturing process and opportunities to develop our shoe cover solution.”

Stephanie said it made sense for the manufacturer to be based in South Australia from a distribution and logistics point of view. “An SA-base allows us to reduce our carbon impact as South Australia is home to more than half of Australia’s vineyards,” she said.

Vinehealth and Small Design Co are also looking for a name for the product. See below the competition to share your name ideas to win a free biosecurity sign.

Manufacturing research follows Stephanie’s work to develop prototypes and testing of the prototypes with wine industry members in 2020. 

The project began in 2019 when Stephanie, a UniSA Postgraduate student in Industrial Design, and Vinehealth Australia began discussions to develop a low cost, environmentally footwear friendly solution to help prevent the spread of pests, diseases and weed seeds in vineyards.

Working with specifications provided by Vinehealth Australia, Stephanie conducted a literature review, field research and product analysis, looking at the range of disposable shoe covers and gumboots currently available.

Stephanie also conducted interviews with 12 industry stakeholders who own or work in vineyards. “There were several comments that were repeated by different stakeholders, and one in particular caught my attention: footwear disinfestation is difficult, particularly with contractors, because there is no easy solution,” Stephanie said.

To fill this gap, Stephanie explored materials and considered a range of design ideas and factors such as aesthetics, cost, ease of manufacturing, reuse and disposal. “I tested a range of options to get an understanding of the durability and usability of various recycled materials. The most promising material was sugar cane pulp material, which is made from a waste product, is carbon neutral and it’s compostable,” Stephanie said.

Stephanie developed several prototypes that were lightweight, durable, flexible, easy to put on and take off, environmentally considerate, easy to transport and store, and low cost. A prototype testing stage followed. The main aim of this phase was assessing the functionality and durability of a range of compostable materials for use as a hard sole.

“We looked at the relative wear and tear on different surfaces, flexibility of the materials and sole size,” Stephanie said.

The testing phase also looked at the functionality of various styles of fasteners and their positioning to help shape the cover around the shoe and to keep it up around the calf. In addition, field observations were undertaken of the relative ease of putting on different shoe cover designs.

Vinehealth Australia and Stephanie aim to appoint manufacturers this year.


WIN a free biosecurity sign!

Help us come up with a catchy name for the shoe covers and you’ll go into the draw to win a free Vinehealth Australia biosecurity sign.

We’re looking for a name that is easy to remember and isn’t too wine industry focused, as we want the product to be applicable to other industries.

Email your ‘shoe cover name’ ideas to with your name and phone number included to go into the draw.

Terms and Conditions

  • The Promoter is Vinehealth Australia, Level 1, Industry Offices, National Wine Centre, Botanic Road, Adelaide SA 5000.
  • The competition begins on 24 February 2022 and will end on 13 April 2022.
  • The winner will be announced by 27 April 2022. The winner will be contacted by phone and email.
  • The prize is a Vinehealth Australia biosecurity sign. The winner can choose between a petite sized consumer facing sign (900 x 600) OR a large (900 x 600) or small (600 x 450) non-consumer facing (farm-gate) sign. The printed sign will be delivered to the winner.
  • If a shoe cover name is selected as the product name, Vinehealth Australia and Small Design Co will own the Trademark.