First circular foam material in footwear announced

OrthoLite and Novamont have partnered to create the first circular foam material solution in footwear – OrthoLite Cirql

The foam is a patented footwear material which combines OrthoLite’s foaming polymers and Novamont’s bio-based, compostable and recyclable polymer to provide the first technology capable of significantly reducing the high impact of the manufacturing process with multiple end-of-life disposal options. It can be used in replacement for current foam materials in parts of the shoe such as the sole.

OL CirqlOrthoLite Cirql is free from ‘forever chemicals’ and responsibly sourced from non-GMO vegetable raw materials plus synthetic biodegradable materials. The material can be returned to the production cycle through low-energy, advanced chemical recycling or disposed of through industrial composting methods. OrthoLite Cirql also hopes to avoid the accumulation of persistent microplastics as particles will biodegrade in a similar manner to natural polymers such as cellulose.

Novamont Research developed a tailor-made bio-polymer material for the chemical-free foaming process which uses nitrogen combined with renewable energy. Unlike the conventional foaming methods currently used, no dangerous or toxic chemical additives are used in the production of Cirql. The biopolymer pellets are melted and mixed with liquid nitrogen under extreme pressure, in a unique injection moulding process that results in incredibly efficient cycle times that reduce energy consumption and create a finished part with no downtime, polymerization or waste.

According to a recent Life Cycle Assessment carried out by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a typical pair of running shoes generates 14 kg/30 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to running a 100-watt light bulb for a week. Every year, in the United States alone, people throw away more than 300 million pairs of shoes, 95 per cent of which end up in landfills.

Glenn Barrett, CEO and Founder of OrthoLite, said: “We are excited to be partnering with Novamont to escalate scalable solutions to drive positive change in the global footwear industry.

“This partnership is built on trust and transparency, as well as a relentless commitment to equip our 500-plus global footwear brand partners to have access to single-source circular materials, starting with the midsole.”

Catia Bastioli, CEO and Founder of Novamont, added: “Proving by facts that it is possible to ‘do more with less’, Novamont has always based its model on the development of products conceived as true catalysts for change, which are capable of activating much greater systemic effects than the product itself, and not as mere substitutes for traditional ones.

“Our philosophy has always been to avoid the problems of pollutant accumulation in the environment, and the fruitful collaboration with OrthoLite, a company that is also committed [to] finding solutions and not just products, allows us to bring our approach to the footwear industry for the first time.”

Novamont has 30 years of experience in the development of chemical and biotechnological processes to create low-impact certified biodegradable and compostable solutions with multiple end-of-life options for everyday life.

OrthoLite Cirql is committed to full transparency and third-party validation and has undergone extensive third-party testing and analysis including a complete Life Cycle IVL Assessment. OrthoLite Cirql is Certified Industrial Compostable – (Din Certco), REACH-certified (EU) and USDA Certified Bio Preferred®, RSL compliant (Intertek), certified GMO-free, certified Vegan and Hypoallergenic.

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