In a statement released today by Borealis, the company announced that in partnership with LanzaTech, a company that has developed proprietary gas fermentation technology to produce ethanol from greenhouse gasses, and Swiss sports brand On, it has successfully developed a new, more sustainable foam called CleanCloud for use in shoe bottoms. CleanCloud, the result of four years of dedicated work, uses carbon emissions as a primary raw material.
On is the first company in the footwear industry to explore the use of greenhouse gas to produce EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) foam, that could also be used in other shoe parts and products in the future. Convinced of the need of cutting carbon emissions, On has adopted a collaborative approach to developing technologies to progress its ambitions at commercial scale.
“It’s a win-win situation: we are capturing emissions before they pollute our atmosphere and are at the same time moving away from fossil-based materials,” explained Caspar Coppetti, Co-Founder and Executive Co-Chairman of On. “Innovation is at the heart of our brand, and after four years of intense research, we are very proud to announce this supply chain coalition with our world-class partners LanzaTech and Borealis.”
LanzaTech ’s technology comprises a combination of genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, and innovations in mechanical and chemical engineering, producing chemicals in a process that ‘soaks up carbon rather than emitting it’, the company said.
“We are showing the world what is possible when we rethink how we source, use and dispose of carbon,” says Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech. “By converting pollution to products, we can see that someday everything in our daily lives will come from recycled carbon.”
LanzaTech’s technology captures carbon monoxide emitted from industrial sources like steel mills or emissions from landfill sites before being released into the atmosphere. Once captured, these emissions enter a patented fermentation process. The carbon-rich gas is fermented and is converted to liquid ethanol by specially selected bacteria. This natural fermentation process is similar to that of conventional alcohol production – e.g., beer brewing. The ethanol is then dehydrated to create ethylene, which is then polymerised by Borealis to become EVA – the lightweight material that On uses to create a performance foam for shoes.
"Borealis is thrilled to be part of the unique, first-of-its-kind CleanCloud initiative. With our creative partners On and Lanzatech, we are proud to co-create circularity in carbon, and decouple plastic from its reliance on fossil-feedstock,” said Lucrèce Foufopoulos, Borealis Executive Vice President Polyolefins, Innovation & Circular Economy Solutions.
The overall goal is to replace all bottom units from On shoes with units made from CleanCloud. This includes the whole Cloud range, THE ROGER franchise collection and a part of the active lifestyle assortment.