Swiss sports brand On today announces a move away from petroleum-based resources by creating a new foam material called CleanCloud™, made using carbon emissions as a raw material. On is the first company in the footwear industry to explore carbon emissions as a primary raw material for a shoe bottom unit, specifically foam (EVA), that could also be used in other shoe parts and products in the future. 

On is convinced that innovation is pivotal to cutting greenhouse gas emissions. CleanCloud™ is the result of four years of dedicated work, which began with finding the best possible partners. A collaborative approach overcame the challenge of scaling a promising new technology for mass production, resulting in the creation of an entirely new supply chain. 

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

CleanCloud™ is the result of a partnership with some of the most innovative companies in biochemicals and material innovation, including LanzaTech and Borealis. LanzaTech is using a combination of cutting-edge genetic engineering, state-of-the-art artificial intelligence, and innovations in mechanical and chemical engineering to manufacture chemicals using a process that soaks up carbon rather than emitting it.

“We are showing the world what is possible when we rethink how we source, use and dispose of carbon,” says Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech. “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 is a leading provider of innovative solutions in the fields of polyolefins, base chemicals and fertilizers and essential in the process as they by creating the high-performance EVA foam from the polymers. With this collaboration Borealis is investigating a sustainable and circular solution in a new application area in close cooperation with growing and innovative brand On. 

Lucrèce Foufopoulos, EVP PO, Innotech & CES: “Borealis is thrilled to be part of this future-oriented endeavour to re-invent for more sustainable living. At its heart, this is about creating circularity for carbon. We will decouple from fossil-fuels and find alternatives through design, technology and collaboration. We are excited to engage in this proof of technology to investigate the use of CO2 based polyolefin in order to provide significant reduction of carbon footprint together with our partners.”

This is how it works: Technology from LanzaTech captures carbon monoxide emitted from industrial sources like steel mills or emissions from landfill sites before being released into the atmosphere. Once captured, these emissions enter a patented fermentation process. Thanks to specially selected bacteria, the carbon rich gas ferments naturally and is converted to liquid ethanol by the bacteria. This natural fermentation process is similar to that of conventional alcohol production – e.g., beer brewing. The ethanol is then dehydrated to create ethylene, which is then polymerized by Borealis to become EVA – the solid material that On starts working with to create a performance foam for shoes.  

This is the first major announcement from Swiss brand On following its successful public listing at the New York Stock Exchange in mid-September. On is known for its innovation in the running shoe industry and has become a proven pioneer in sustainable material innovation.

The overall goal is to exchange all bottom units from On shoes currently made from EVA with CleanCloud™. This includes the whole Cloud and Cloud X range and a part of the active lifestyle assortment.

Learn more about On’s sustainability journey in the “ON Impact Progress Report”.