We have always drawn our inspiration from the world around us. How can we stay out longer without worrying about the weather? How can we run further to see more? How can we explore in comfort? The only way On can continue discovering the outside world is by holding ourselves accountable for our impact on nature. We know this isn’t an easy fix.
Sustainability (we know everyone’s using this word a lot, but bear with us) is complex and at On, it's much more than having recycling bins in our offices. We are taking a giant step away from the day-to-day and looking closely at our global impact – from where we source our materials to what happens with our products when they reach the end of their lives.
“As a sustainability team, we study the impact of numbers. We use our findings to identify the areas where we can make the biggest difference. We collect and calculate vast amounts of data, so all of our decisions can be supported by facts. Geeking-out on the figures means we can have a better measurable impact, faster.” – Viviane Gut, Head of Sustainability
The first step is knowing where to start. We turned to industry experts and conducted our own thorough research to get the facts. We identified three focus areas where we know we can have a significant, positive impact.
1. Preferred materials
Our life cycle analysis showed that the materials used in our industry are responsible for up to 80% of our environmental footprint, so we made them our top priority.
2. Co2 and climate change
Climate change is a real threat, and the apparel and footwear industry accounts for approximately 10% of global GHG emissions. We know we can play a role in reducing ours.
3. Circular Product
We believe the future of our products is circular. We want to design products intended to live in a loop, not a landfill.
If you’re feeling fatigued by the greenwashing of sustainability language, we hear you. But we’re all about action, not just words. Sustainability is a complex world and we know there’s no easy answer. We’re committed to making a lasting, research-led impact, even if that means we don’t get it right sometimes. Making a measurable, positive change is a marathon, not a quick sprint.
Facing the facts
We're not just going to be honest with you, we're going to be honest with ourselves. We have a long way to go, and with technologies changing all the time, we've got to make sure we don't get complacent. Our team is continually gathering and evaluating masses of new data. By continually evaluating the life cycle of our products we’ve been able to develop deeper understandings of the challenges we want to overcome. This becomes the foundation for all our decision making. Our three focus areas keep us on track and allow our teams to dive deep into the numbers surrounding them.
There are several steps science shows us we need to take towards a better future when choosing our materials. By moving towards recyclable materials in our products we can dramatically cut our CO2 emissions, but this alone isn't enough for us. We need to remove petrol-based products from our production process entirely.
Perfecting our products
Our products are our most exciting opportunity ahead of us. We need to develop performance products that can take on marathons with low-impact materials and methods. And the good news is that we've already started. The Cyclon running shoe is our first 100% recyclable shoe, engineered from two types of high quality, high-performance polyamides. The upper uses PA11, a bio-based polyamide derived from castor beans, and the bottom from an equally high-performance polyamide compound called Pebax. But the best part is that it's zero waste. We have broken the linear product line and created a virtuous circle that means you never have to throw away these shoes – they can't be stopped! Our aim is to bring this zero-waste approach to more of our products.
Polyester might be a performance fabric, but its environmental footprint is one we can't ignore and we currently use it more than any other performance fabric. One of our first steps is to remove virgin polyester from our production line entirely. Then we can establish how we recycle the alternatives we use. One thing we know for sure is that by pursuing this goal, we will be giving new life to items that would have otherwise ended up in landfill.
When it comes to our CO2 footprint, we must take into account each product's individual footprint so we can get a transparent and accurate understanding of the task at hand.
A winning team
Our team knows they have their own part to play. We can't overlook the international nature of our business so we’re implementing a framework that keeps our team informed about their global travel impact. Each member of our organisation can play their part. That's why we joined the CEO4Climate initiative – a group of Swiss businesses that are petitioning the Swiss Government to adopt a progressive climate policy.
“Any brand can hide behind the word sustainability. It’s so important to be transparent about our impact and the numbers and data behind our work. These insights create opportunities for us to have science-based conversations with our community.” – Viviane Gut, Head of Sustainability
Every person who joins our team – and every one of our partners – knows how passionate we are about a better future. One way we make sure that we are leading a winning team is with an integrated approach.
Our team is tight-knit, so our approach can quickly be communicated throughout the company. We find that when everyone is accountable and knows their role, our motivation to keep moving forward is at its peak.
It's time to push our limits.
As a new and small brand, On will never stop working on ways to improve, and it's because we're agile and innovative that we don't have to compromise on performance while we create solutions.
This mission of ours doesn't have an end date. We plan to innovate and develop new solutions every year. We hope you'll join us.
If you want to find out more, check out the resources below.
Discover more about Cyclon. Our first running shoe that can be recycled as part of an infinite, circular system.
We’ve got nothing to hide. Learn more about who we partner with.
See how we’re already making big changes to the way we use materials.
Still curious to know more? Check out our transparency site.