Reebok to introduce plant-based sustainable footwear

by Danielle Wightman-Stone
5 Apr 2017

Global sportswear brand Reebok is creating sustainable plant-based trainers that will be compostable and feature organic cotton and corn.

The Cotton + Corn initiative has been even developed by the Reebok Future team with the aim of creating shoes “made from things that grow” and the first release later this year will be a shoe that has an upper comprised of organic cotton and a base originating from industrial grown corn, a non-food source.

Reebok has partnered with DuPont Tate and Lyle Bio Products, a leading manufacturer of high-performance bio-based solutions, to develop Susterra propanediol, a pure, petroleum-free, non-toxic, 100 percent USDA certified bio-based product, derived from field corn, which creates the sustainable trainer sole.

As well as being sustainable made, the ingredients of the trainers will also be compostable, with the idea that the first release of trainers would help to grow the second.

“We like to say, we are ‘growing shoes’ here at Reebok,” said head of Reebok Future Bill McInnis. “Ultimately, our goal is to create a broad selection of bio-based footwear that can be composted after use. We’ll then use that compost as part of the soil to grow the materials for the next range of shoes. We want to take the entire cycle into account; to go from dust to dust.”

Reebok unveils cotton and corn plant-based trainers

McInnis added: “This is really just the first step for us. With Cotton + Corn we’re focused on all three phases of the product lifecycle. First, with product development, we’re using materials that grow and can be replenished, rather than the petroleum-based materials commonly used today.

“Second, when the product hits the market we know our consumers don’t want to sacrifice on how sneakers look and perform. Finally, we care about what happens to the shoes when people are done with them. So we’ve focused on plant-based materials such as corn and cotton at the beginning, and compostability in the end.”

Reebok isn’t the only sportswear brand looking to invest in sustainable trainers, Adidas has already started producing trainers made from ocean-plastic, and Nike have looked into 3D printed soles, however, they are the first to have plant-based footwear on the market. The first designs are expected to launch later this year.

“Reebok’s philosophy is to ‘Be More Human,’ and sustainability is a core part of that belief. As human beings, we have a responsibility to leave this planet as we found it for future generations,” said Reebok President Matt O’Toole. “Unfortunately, the fact is most shoes just end up in landfills, which is something we are trying to change. As a brand, we will be focusing on sustainability with the Cotton + Corn program as well as other initiatives we have in the works.”

Image: courtesy of Reebok