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Shoe components created from carbon emissions

Partners collaborating to unlock the potential of alternative carbon sources.

21st September 2022

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Switzerland

Clothing/​Footwear, Sustainable

Swiss sports brand On is launching a new shoe called Cloudprime featuring its CleanCloud EVA foam midsole which is made using carbon emissions as the raw material.

CleanCloud is the result of a supply chain partnership between LanzaTech, Borealis and Technip Energies. LanzaTech is using a combination of genetic engineering, biotechnology, artificial intelligence and innovations in mechanical and chemical engineering to manufacture chemicals using a process that soaks up waste carbon rather than emitting it.

LanzaTech’s technology captures carbon monoxide emitted from industrial sources like steel mills before being released into the atmosphere. Once captured, the emissions enter a patented fermentation process. Thanks to specially selected and naturally occuring bacteria, the carbon rich gas ferments naturally and is converted to ethanol. The natural fermentation process is similar to that of conventional beer brewing. The ethanol is then dehydrated to create ethylene by Technip Energies, which is then polymerized by Borealis to become EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) in a form of solid small plastic pellets – the versatile and lightweight material that On starts working with to create a performance foam for shoes.

“We believe that On can be an agent for positive change through enabling and accelerating the scale up of sustainable technologies such as CleanCloud,” says Caspar Coppetti, On co-founder and executive co-chairman. “CleanCloud is the result of five years of dedicated work which began with finding the best possible partners. This collaborative approach is key to overcoming the challenges of developing a complex technology at commercial scale. Five years ago, this was barely a dream. Imagine what can happen in the future as we unlock the potential of alternative carbon sources with further research and in collaboration with the best partners.”

In further developments, On is also collaborating with circular start-up Novoloop to create a CleanCloud outsole, by utilising the world’s first chemically upcycled TPU from post-consumer plastic waste. The outsole has been put through rigorous lab and athlete testing and meets specifications comparable to fossil derived TPUs with a significant carbon footprint reduction. For a new upper, On is collaborating with the young French start-up Fairbrics to create a polyester-based textile also made from carbon emissions.

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