Following on from last year’s collaborative effort, Swiss sportswear brand On and carbon biorecycling innovators LanzaTech have once again combined efforts, bringing together planet-forward and performance-running technology.
Where, toward the end of 2022, the pair were last seen delivering on a running shoe made from emissions, this time LanzaTech’s carbon recycling technology has been put to use in creating an Earth-friendlier apparel offering for On – a collection of shorts, T-shirts, long-sleeve tees, and tank tops.
“This partnership showcases that there is enough above ground carbon to make all the things we need. Our platform recycles carbon emissions that would otherwise pollute our skies and turns them into sustainable raw materials such as the yarns used for this collection.” – Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech
As with the Cloudprime shoe, the products featured in On’s new “Pace Collection” all use something called CleanCloud™ technology – a material created from intercepted carbon emissions in a joint effort with LanzaTech and renewable plastics outfit Borealis. Where the Cloudprime used CleanCloud™ for its EVA foam, however, the Pace collection deploys it as a replacement for traditional, petro-burning polyester.
In creating CleanCloud™, LanzaTech captures carbon emissions from a steel mill in China, feeds that carbon into its microbe-housing bioreactors, and – in the process, which Fast Company describes as “similar to brewing beer” – creates the ethanol necessary to make polyester.
“On’s goal with the Pace collection is to demonstrate to others in the apparel industry that it’s possible to create highly technical performance gear through more environmentally friendly methods, such as reusing carbon emissions.” – Nils Altrogge, Head of Innovation Portfolio Strategy at On
The result, then – as seen in the various products of the Pace Collection, astutely limited to avoid issues of over-complication or overproduction – isn’t so much a new material as it is a newer, cleaner, and more sustainable way of creating the materials that On considers necessary for crafting high-performance running technology.
In terms of the apparel’s construction, the amount of CleanCloud™ polyester featured varies from product to product. The main fabric component of the “Pace Long-T,” for example, is 100% CleanCloud® polyester, while the rib is 96% recycled polyester and 4% elastane. The “Pace Tank,” however, is 67% CleanCloud® polyester, 13% polyester, and 20% elastane. The “Pace Short,” too, has a similarly complex makeup: the main fabric is 86% CleanCloud® polyester, 8% recycled elastane and 6% elastane, the inner tights are 82% CleanCloud® polyester and 18% elastane, and the pockets are 67% CleanCloud® polyester, 20% elastane, and 13% polyester.
“We are creating a new circular carbon economy, where we no longer have to extract more fossil carbon to make the things in our daily lives. This is a world where we can choose where the carbon in our lives comes from!” – Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech
These are numbers which, while impressive in the volume of recycled and bio-fabricated materials, also suggest the presence of some virgin, traditionally-created petro-materials. That being said, it’s impossible to deny the level of progress here – especially when you consider that the collection’s predecessor, the Cloudprime running shoe, still isn’t available for purchase.
What the Pace Collection represents, then, is really a first of its kind: lightweight and breathable, it is a commercially viable and fully-scaled collection of performance-focused sportswear, made through next-generation processes, using Earth-friendlier materials wherever possible. It is, however imperfect, a huge step forward for an industry still so heavily reliant on petrochemical-based fabrics.
“”We are highly convinced that de-fossilizing our materials consequently by replacing them with materials based on bioresources, recycled resources, or Carbon Emissions is the right and necessary step for the industry. Within the process, we are screening fast, pushing proof of concepts forward, and making swift decisions and commitments.” – Nils Altrogge, Head of Innovation Portfolio Strategy at On