Product, Service & Design Innovation
Reebok 'Growing' Compostable Footwear from Cotton + Corn

Global fitness brand Reebok has launched its “Cotton + Corn” sustainable products initiative, which will bring plant-based footwear to the market later this year.

“This is really just the first step for us,” said Bill McInnis, Head of Reebok Future. “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.

“Ultimately, our goal is to create a broad selection of bio-based footwear that can be composted after use,” McInnis continued. “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.”

For the Cotton + Corn initiative, Reebok partnered with DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products, a leading manufacturer of high-performance bio-based solutions. DuPont Tate & Lyle has developed Susterra® propanediol – a pure, petroleum-free, non-toxic, 100% USDA-certified bio-based product, derived from field corn. Susterra® propanediol is used to create the sole of the Cotton + Corn shoes.

“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.”

The Reebok Future team is Reebok’s innovation department dedicated to creating new technologies, ideas, techniques and prototypes.

“Reebok has a long history of innovation and of being a socially responsible company,” O’Toole said. “The Reebok Future team was created to innovate not only the products we make, but also the process by which we make them. Cotton + Corn is another great example of this, and one that can have a long-term positive impact on the world.”

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