Nov 16, 2021
by Sidney Pacampara
On Running Turns Carbon Emissions Into Cushioning Foam
by Sidney Pacampara
Nov 16, 2021

On Running believes sustainability and performance “go hand-in-hand.” Innovation and technology can not only push the boundaries of what’s possible for a sportswear company, but they can also be key drivers for combatting climate change. The Swiss footwear brand’s latest eco-conscious initiative sees the introduction of CleanCloud™, a new high-performance foam for running shoes created using recycled carbon emissions as a raw material.

Made in partnership with biotechnology startup LanzaTech and advanced, circular and renewable plastic solutions provider Borealis over a four-year development process, CleanCloud™ uses intercepted carbon emissions as the building blocks of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) foam.

“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,” explains On Co-Founder and Executive Co-Chairman Caspar Coppetti. “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.”

Emissions from industrial sources are captured by LanzaTech before entering the atmosphere using a combination of genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, and innovations in mechanical and chemical engineering, similar to the startup’s work with lululemon and PANGAIA. The captured emissions are put through a fermentation process that converts the greenhouse gas into liquid ethanol, which is is dehydrated to become ethylene gas. Borealis polymerizes the gas to create EVA pellets, and On then takes the EVA to engineer the cushioning foam.

“We are showing the world what is possible when we rethink how we source, use and dispose of carbon,” says LanzaTech CEO Jennifer Holmgren. “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.”

Borealis’ Executive Vice President Polyolefins, Innovation & Circular Economy Solutions Lucrèce Foufopoulos added, “[We are] thrilled to be part of the unique, first-of-its-kind CleanCloud™ initiative. With our creative partners On and LanzaTech, we are proud to co-create circularity in carbon, and decouple plastic from its reliance on fossil-fuels. Through innovation and collaboration, we continue re-inventing for more sustainable living.”

On’s goal for developing and introducing CleanCloud™ is to substitute all of the brand’s shoes that currently use EVA for its bottom units with the new sustainable material, including the Cloud range and collaborative collection made for tennis legend Roger Federer. The brand also hopes to expand the material’s potential into other parts of shoes and other products in the future.

Be on the lookout for more updates regarding On’s transition to CleanCloud™ foam cushioning.

In other footwear news, Timberland has released a FW21 boot collection made with its GreenStride™ natural foam soles, which are made from a 75% combination of sugar cane and responsibly-sourced rubber.