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OrthoLite and Novamont announce collab on innovative circular footwear solution

By Cenia Zitter


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Image: CEOs and Founders Glenn Barrett and Catia Bastioli | Credit: Business Wire

PU comfort and insoles supplier OrthoLite and biochemistry company Novamont announced their collaborative effort to create a circular answer to traditional foams used in footwear called OrthoLite Cirql, which will go into production in the second half of 2023.

According to the two companies, this is “the world’s first circular foam material solution for footwear”.

The patented OrthoLite Cirql is derived from a mixture of non-GMO traditional raw materials from plants and synthetic, biodegradable ones, and is said to be free of ever-lasting chemicals. In this context, the companies define biodegradability as the downgrading of the raw material in ways that are similar to those of natural polymers such as cellulose, which helps to avoid further distribution of microplastics.

Novamont contributed by coming up with a unique bio-polymer to enable a chemical-free foaming process. With the help of renewable energy, nitrogen, a natural component of the air we breathe, and the melted polymer pellets are assembled under high pressure in a “one-of-a-kind” moulding process. The companies explain that this method offers efficient cycle times, resulting in the reduction of used energy, and the elimination of downtime, polymerization and waste.

Through third-party testing, certification presentation and analysis including a complete Life Cycle IVL Assessment, they further ensure that transparency and impartial validation will be provided.

The release explains that the materials can be fully recovered at the end of their lifetime, by collaborating with existing and new take-back infrastructures of footwear brands and the waste management sector.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) carried out a new Life Cycle Assessment and found out that in the US alone, consumers discard more than 300 million pairs of shoes annually, of which 95 percent end up in landfills. On top of that, the production of generic running shoes adds up to the same amount of carbon dioxide emissions of a 100-watt light bulb running for a week straight.

Novament is an italian-based, certified B Corporation and is specialised in the production of bioplastics and the development of biochemicals as well as bioproducts, being present in over 40 countries internationally through its distributors. It is a member of the United Nations’ Global Compact Network and is taking its first step into the footwear industry together with OrthoLite.

The latter has been in the industry for over 25 years, currently supplying insoles to more than 470 shoe brands of different categories globally. The company’s present goal is an active zero waste scheme to reduce pollution and regenerate natural systems.

Glenn Barrett, CEO and Founder of OrthoLite, said: “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.”

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