The current Make-Use-Dispose lifecycle of standard apparel and footwear products is responsible for a considerable amount of the waste, pollution and CO2 emissions endured by the environment. Research conducted by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation shows that approximately 73% of clothing is burnt and sent to landfills, around 12% is repurposed for insulation products, and just 1 - 3% is recycled into new clothing.
Environmental sustainability is by definition; “taking a resource and maintaining its use without causing permanent damage”. Simply put, a linear lifecycle is not sustainable. Circularity offers a more sustainable solution. One that designs out waste and keeps products in use. And we think a service like Cyclon can make circularity second nature.
We love to take inspiration from nature and so does circularity. Natural systems are inherently cyclical. There’s no waste in nature when everything is nutrients for something else. When we can reuse, re-make and recycle products as part of an infinite cycle – we’re able to operate in harmony with Earth’s finite resources rather than simply delaying inevitable damage.
Not only do we believe that a more circular system is the future of footwear and apparel production, we think it has to be.
Cyclon is our breakthrough in finding a solution to this problem. It’s the first time we’ve been able to piece together sustainable design, production, recycling and process into one product. Thanks to two exceptionally high quality performance materials and a clever backloop system, we were able to create a running shoe that can be recycled as part of an infinite, circular system. One that matches our high standards and doesn’t stifle performance.
Technology and global trade has meant products are more accessible than ever.
Fast shipping, ease of access to products, and competitive low prices from worldwide manufacturers have meant that increasingly, clothing and footwear are considered disposable items being discarded after fewer and fewer uses. You know, like that t-shirt you wore one time to that one party? Yup.
Research from the Circular Fibres Initiative in 2018 found that the utilization of clothing has decreased by 36% over a 15 year period. At the same time, clothing production doubled to meet demand, and it’s not slowing down. The study also revealed that the approximately 12 - 14 tonnes of textile is landfilled or burned every second.
Doesn’t make for comfortable reading does it? When we discard products, it’s easy to feel disconnected from the result of our actions because we don’t see the consequence once it’s out of sight. But as an apparel and footwear brand, we’re paying attention and we don’t shy away from taking responsibility.
Circularity not only reduces waste, it also responds to the wider challenges our planet faces like biodiversity loss, pollution and CO2 reduction.
One of our pillars of sustainability is to reduce our CO2 footprint and we want to put our money where our mouth is. That’s why we’ve joined the ScienceBasedTargets initiative. We’ve committed to reducing our CO2 emissions to a level that will support the limiting of average global temperature raising to 1.5°C (34.7°F) above pre-industrial levels.
A study conducted by the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment has shown that a more circular economy has the potential to reduce carbon emissions in Europe, India and China by 22 - 44% by 2050.
A strategy with longevity
Engineering a fully recyclable running shoe that not only matches our high performance standards, but also functions as part of a sustainable and efficient circular process was no easy task. Two of the main principles of a circular economy can help break down what it takes to create an effective and impactful circular process.
Design out waste and pollution
This means already thinking about a more sustainable destiny for a product before it’s manufactured, and making sure it’s done with the lowest impact on the environment. We made sure each Cyclon running shoe is constructed from a single-unit upper – that means no unnecessary waste. And we know that coloring requires dyes and chemicals that are harmful to the environment. That’s why we made the decision to go 100% dye- and bleach-free.
Keep products and materials in use
We engineered the Cyclon running shoe with a combination of bio-based materials derived from natural resources. The two materials are of exceptionally high quality which means they can be recycled as part of an infinite cycle without losing their performance and design characteristics. To make this possible, we created a subscription service.
“The subscription model is the key to unlocking a fully functioning circular lifecycle” says Viviane Gut, Head of Sustainability at On. “It’s our way of making sure the shoes are returned so we can recycle them as effectively as possible and make sure 100% of the material is reused.”
So here’s how we did it.
Closing the loop
The first step is designing a product that can be recycled as part of an infinite loop, and one that matches our high expectations for performance, quality and design.
Using bio-based materials and advanced engineering methods, we produce a fully recyclable high performance running shoe.
Shipping accounts for 2 - 5% of the total CO2 emissions created during production of a shoe. To optimize this process to be as sustainable as possible, we only ship to areas that meet the minimum demand. No half-full shipping containers.
Now for the fun part. This is where you can experience what it’s like to run in a fully recyclable, ultralight high-performance running shoe. Usually this is where the cycle ends. But not with Cyclon.
Recycling advanced materials like performance polyamides can be complex but it’s possible with the right infrastructure. When we send you a new pair of shoes, you return the used pair in the same box. We take care of the rest.
When the shoe is returned, we grind it, melt it down and reuse 100% of the material. And the loop continues.
With each cycle, we’re using fewer virgin materials and protecting the Earth’s resources.
Ultimately, circularity asks manufacturers of goods to take more responsibility and think of a truly sustainable future. Cyclon is our first step in designing out waste and keeping materials in use for good. And we’re all about action. On the trails and in our Head Quarters.
We’re on track to launch the first Cyclon running shoe in Fall of 2021. To be able to produce at scale as sustainably as possible, we need to understand demand. That’s why we’re already opening the subscription service for sign-ups. Cyclon is first-come first-served, so the sooner you sign up, the higher your chances will be to get your hands on a pair.
The Cyclon running shoe is so much more than recyclable. It’s exceptionally high performance. It’s on track to be the lightest shoe we’ve ever designed. It’s agile, powerful and is engineered to perform to elite standards.
Check out the video and articles below to discover more.