Allbirds running shoe made from renewable materials to feature ‘carbon count’ label
B Corp Allbirds has debuted a new running shoe made from renewable and natural materials and is the first product from the company to feature a physical "carbon count" label, detailing the lifecycle emissions of the product to consumers.
Allbirds’s “Dasher” running shoe consist of eucalyptus tree fibre, merino wool and sugarcane. The product has undergone extensive performance testing but has also been examined for its environmental impact.
According to Allbirds, the shoe emits 9kg of carbon dioxide per pair, which is around 30% lower than the average trainer, many of which are made with synthetic plastics that end up in landfill or polluting the natural environment.
The company claims that through regenerative farming and innovations the natural materials used in the shoe could end up sequestering more carbon out of the atmosphere than what was used to produce it, making it a carbon-negative product.
Allbirds will display this information to consumers through a physical “carbon count” label, which details emissions from the materials, development, manufacturing and end-of-life of a product. Allbirds announced earlier this month that they had become the first fashion brand to label every product with a carbon footprint.
The company has developed a Life Cycle Assessment tool with third-party experts to evaluate the carbon impact of every process across the value chain.
Allbirds’s chief executive Tim Brown said: “For too long, the performance industry told us that athletic footwear meant synthetic footwear. By failing to make the most of what is right in front of us – nature – we’ve missed some of the greatest performance materials in existence. Our multi-year journey to create the Dasher demonstrates what’s possible if we put the kind of innovation muscle into natural materials that are usually reserved for petroleum-derived synthetics.”
The Dasher features an upper mesh made from Tencel Lyocell, which uses 95% less water to produce than traditional footwear materials. Merino wool is used as lining, while recycled polyester is also utilised alongside Allbirds’s carbon negative EVA solution derived from renewable sugarcane.
In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Allbirds donated 2,000 pairs of its shoes – which boast sugarcane-based soles and uppers made from either certified merino wool or Tencel – to NHS workers for free. Each pair typically retails for around the £100 mark.
Allbirds has plans of achieving net-zero status, which has been set on an ongoing basis.
In order to reach the aim, the firm has imposed an internal carbon tax which requires key business departments to make a financial contribution to a “carbon fund”, equivalent to their emissions. This funding will be spent on emissions-reduction projects within the company and across its supply chain, as well as funding carbon offset projects such as reforestation initiatives and renewables projects equivalent to all “residual” emissions.
Decisions as to which green projects should be funded through the offsetting pot will be made by customers, who will be given the chance to vote every time they make an online or in-store purchase.
A global survey of 10,000 consumers has shown universal support for details on a product’s carbon footprint to be included on labelling. The 2020 YouGov survey, commissioned by the Carbon Trust, survey 10,000 consumers across France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the US. It found that more than two-thirds (67%) of consumers would support the introduction of carbon labelling on products.
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