Reebok launches bio-based shoe made from corn and cotton

Sportswear manufacturer Reebok has created its first sports shoe made with 75% plant-based fibres, as it strives to source more sustainable materials for inclusion in its products.

The shoes, called NPC UK Cotton and Corn, have an upper made from 100% organic cotton and a bio-based sole made entirely from non-food source industrial corn fibres. Meanwhile, the insoles are derived from castor bean oil.

Reebok Future’s head, Bill McInnes, said the launch of the shoe was “just the start” of the brand’s journey towards more sustainable sourcing as it moves to create a “broad selection of bio-based footwear that can be composted after use”.

“Most athletic footwear is made using petroleum to create synthetic rubber and foam cushioning systems,” McInnes said. “With 20 billion pairs of shoes made every year, this is not a sustainable way of making footwear. By using sustainable resources as our foundation, and then through ongoing testing and development, we were able to create a plant-based sneaker that performs and feels like any other shoe.”

The fitness apparel firm’s innovation department, Reebok Future, partnered with DuPont Tate and Lyle Bio Products to deliver the bio-based solution. DuPont has worked with Lyle to develop a petroleum-free, non-toxic 100% bio-based product that has been certified by the US Department of Agriculture. This produce is used to create the sole of the footwear.

Sustainable sneakers

The Reebok shoe is the latest in a growing number of sustainable footwear innovations, with sportswear rival Adidas this year revealing that it sold more than one million pairs of trainers made from 95% ocean plastic in 2017.

In the quest to produce closed-loop products, Adidas partnered with Parley for the Oceans to source marine waste for the shoes, which were originally unveiled as a prototype at a United Nations General Assembly in New York in 2015.

Adidas has also used some of the collected ocean waste in various football kit ranges, including special edition Real Madrid and Bayern Munich kits.

Elsewhere, Marks and Spencer (M&S) recently launched a range of shoes made from rice husks, plastic bottles and coffee grounds, known as ‘Footglove Earth’. Spanish fashion brand Ecoalf has also unveiled a range of sports shoes made from a combination of recovered single-use plastics and bio-based foam.

Sarah George 

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