How This Insole Company Plans to Eliminate Waste at Its Global Factories

As one of the leading providers of footwear insoles, OrthoLite is the brand you feel but rarely see. It’s been working for 20 years with top brands such as Clarks, New Balance and Asics to make shoes more comfortable.

Here, chief sales officer C.B. Tuite talks about what’s next from OrthoLite and why the company has made sustainability a priority.

What new technologies will OrthoLite introduce this year and in 2019?

“The biggest move from us is a sustainability and eco story. We’ve introduced two recently: The first is Eco LT, which enables brands to tell an eco story at a cost-neutral price — the overall eco content is 11 percent. The other is Hybrid, which is 5 percent recycled rubber (outsole rubber from the factory that we regrind and repurpose) and 15 percent from waste foam, so the total eco content is 20 percent. We’re also going out with the Ultra LT, a new lightweight technology that’s also eco-friendly. For 2018 and into 2019, the biggest initiative for us is fully 100 percent recycled insoles.”

Why is the company so focused on sustainability?

“We’ve always been sustainable. Twenty years ago, when we introduced OrthoLite, we used recycled rubber. And we are still focused on sustainability on both product and process. We’ve created a closed water recycling system, we have air purification, we use solar energy, and we have the largest suite of eco-friendly products in the marketplace. We have recycled content ranging from 5 percent to 100 percent fully recycled, and we allow the brands to create a good, better, best tier system in product formulation and in eco content. Now we’re focused on getting to zero waste, the recycling of post-production waste foam — that’s a big initiative for us.”

When might you hit the zero-waste mark?

“We anticipate that in the next year or two, we’ll be able to reach our zero-waste goals. This year, we launched a new recycling process and built a facility for it on-site in China where we do the bulk of our foaming and where we have our chemical systems house. It is an owned and operated OrthoLite recycling facility. That will get us to our zero-waste target. We’re expanding globally and adding more factories in Vietnam and Indonesia, and we will replicate the recycling process as we go forward.”

Is there more expansion in the works?

“We have multiple locations in China, and we are already situated in Vietnam. Our second Vietnam facility will open this year, and there will be full manufacturing, processing and recycling on-site. The same is true in Indonesia; we’re expanding in that market. We’re also going to be expanding into Brazil, India, Mexico and Europe.”

What are the biggest challenges OrthoLite faces?

“How do we continue to replicate what we have been able to introduce as we move from country to country? We have a tremendous technology we invented 20 years ago, and we continue to add to the suite of products, but the challenge will be pace of growth as we expand our global footprint. There’s a great demand for OrthoLite, and we have the capacity to supply it, but we need to be in those other countries to support our brand partners.”

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