AMHERST, Mass., U.S. / NOVARA, Italy – OrthoLite, a provider of sustainable, performance and comfort insoles and footwear materials, and bioplastics producer Novamont have successfully created the world’s first circular foam material solution for footwear, the two companies have announced. The partners say they are bringing a solution for environmental improvement across the global footwear industry, a market currently valued at around $400 billion.
Called OrthoLite Cirql, and developed within the scope of an exclusive partnership agreed between the companies, the new foam is a patented footwear materials solution based on Novamont’s bio-based, compostable, recyclable polymer material and OrthoLite’s 26 years of expertise and innovation in foaming polymers.
It is a partnership ‘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,” said Glenn Barrett, CEO and founder of OrthoLite. OrthoLite Cirql will offer a traditional plastic-free, scalable and truly circular material to OrthoLite’s brand partners and factory stakeholders in 2023.
A new Life Cycle Assessment carried out by MIT demonstrates that a typical pair of running shoes generates 14 kg of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to running a 100-watt light bulb for a week. Every year, in the United States alone, people throw away more than 300 million pairs of shoes, 95% of which end up in landfills.
OrthoLite Cirql is sourced from non-GMO traditional vegetable raw materials derived from plants plus synthetic biodegradable materials. The material can be chemically recycled in a low-energy process or industrially composted at the end of life. Particles that nonetheless end up in the environment will biodegrade rather than accumulate as persistent microplastics.
The biopolymer material developed by Novamont Research is foamed using nitrogen in a process powered by renewable energy. The biopolymer pellets are melted and mixed with liquid nitrogen under extreme pressure, in a unique injection moulding process that results in highly efficient cycle times that reduce energy consumption and create a finished part with no downtime or waste.
OrthoLite Cirql marks the company’s debut in the footwear industry.
"Novamont has always based its model on the development of products conceived as true catalysts for change, which are capable of activating much greater systemic effects than the product itself, and not as mere substitutes for traditional ones,” said Catia Bastioli, CEO and founder of Novamont. “Our philosophy has always been to avoid the problems of pollutant accumulation in the environment, and the fruitful collaboration with OrthoLite, a company that is also committed in finding solutions and not just products, allows us to bring our approach to the footwear industry for the first time.”
OrthoLite Cirql is committed to full transparency and third-party validation, and has undergone extensive third-party testing and analysis including a complete Life Cycle IVL Assessment. OrthoLite Cirql is Certified Industrial Compostable – (Din Certco), REACH-certified (EU) and USDA Certified Bio Preferred, RSL compliant (Intertek), certified GMO-free, certified Vegan and Hypoallergenic. OrthoLite Cirql is moving from the lab into production scale in the back half of 2023.