On Creates a Sustainable New Foam for Running Shoes That’s Made From Carbon Emissions

On is moving away from petroleum-based resources by creating a new foam of its own.

The Swiss footwear brand revealed CleanCloud today, the new foam material it created that’s made using carbon emissions as a raw material. CleanCloud has been in the works for four years, starting with finding partners in climate-safe materials and fuel company LanzaTech and circular polyolefin solutions provider Borealis.

On’s goal, according to a statement, is to swap out all of its soles that are made from EVA to ones made with CleanCloud.

“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,” On co-founder and executive co-chairman Caspar Coppetti said in a statement. “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.”

The process, according to the companies, starts with using technology from LanzaTech to capture the carbon monoxide that’s emitted from industrial sources, such as steel mills, or emissions from landfill sites before being released into the atmosphere. From there, the companies said the emissions enter a patented fermentation process, and by using specially selected bacteria, the carbon rich gas ferments naturally and  converts to liquid ethanol, which they explained is similar to conventional alcohol production.

The process is concluded, according to a statement, when the ethanol is dehydrated to create ethylene, which is then polymerized by Borealis to become EVA foam.

“We are showing the world what is possible when we rethink how we source, use and dispose of carbon,” LanzaTech CEO said in a statement. “By converting pollution to products, we can see that someday everything in our daily lives will come from recycled carbon. We are excited to be on this journey with On and Borealis to bend the carbon curve, keep our skies blue and create a sustainable future for all.”

On is continuing to make headlines in 2021, and is not far removed from its September debut on the New York Stock Exchange.

This latest initiative in sustainability is one of many On has engaged in. Prior to today’s announcement, perhaps its most notable effort is Cyclon, the brand’s subscription-based recycling service involving fully recyclable sportswear that it announced in September 2020.

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