September 25, 2022

Fitness brands have began to focus their innovation efforts on developing products that create less waste. We’ve started to see plant-based materials and ocean plastics being regularly incorporated into our favorite gym apparel. Using various complex technologies, brands have continued to become more innovative in utilizing sustainable materials to lessen their carbon footprint.

Typically, sneakers are made from petroleum-based materials, but the carbon capture production method essentially turns pollution into products. This is one of the innovations that has been storming through the activewear industry — and for the first time ever, it’s being implemented into shoes by On. The Swiss brand has revealed its new Cloudprime running shoe, led by CleanCloud technology.

“Holding the first-ever shoe made of carbon emissions in my hands is a huge milestone – not only for On, but for the whole sports industry”, says Caspar Coppetti, Co-Founder and Executive Co-Chairman of On. “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.”

What is CleanCloud?

On has been working with Borealis, a leader in renewable plastic, and LanzaTech, who is on the cutting edge of genetic engineering, to create a shoe with EVA foam soles made of carbon waste. LanzaTech captures carbon monoxide from industrial sources like steel mills and puts it through a fermentation process with naturally occurring bacteria, where it is then converted to ethanol.

The ethanol is dehydrated to create ethylene by the energy transition company, Technip Energies. Then, the ethylene is polymerized by Borealis to become EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate). Once these plastic pellets are created, On picks up the process and begins the creation of the performance foam for the midsole.

To complete the shoe, On is using the first chemically upcycled TPU from plastic waste for the CleanCloud outsole in partnership with Novoloop. The outsole was tested to compete with fossil-derived shoes that currently own the market. For the shoe’s upper, they are collaborating with Fairbrics, a French start-up to make a polyester-based textile from carbon emissions.

Though this product is not yet available — On hasn’t yet announced any pricing or on-sale dates — there’s certainly plenty of excitement to be found in the innovation that is coming to our beloved sporting industry. We’re looking forward to trying it out in person.

LEARN MORE