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On Running Sprints to Circularity with Cyclon

Swiss performance footwear brand On has embarked on a journey toward circularity, having released the first iteration of its mono-material, recyclable running shoe.

The company’s environmental impact progress report this week revealed that the On Cyclon subscription program, announced last year, is now open for business. The platform allows subscribers to return their worn-in running shoes to be deconstructed and recycled, receiving new pairs by mail as needed, for a monthly fee of $29.99.

“Just a few weeks ago, our very first community of Cyclon subscribers in the U.S. received their first subscription-based and fully recyclable shoe, the Cloudneo,” co-founder and executive co-chairman Caspar Coppetti said. “This very special launch provided a further step towards our sustainability mission.”

The Cloudneo recyclable running shoe.
The Cloudneo running shoe. Courtesy

The launch is a part of the brand’s overarching commitment to move away from virgin materials, he added. By the end of last year, On incorporated recycled inputs for 53 percent of polyester and 63 percent of polyamide, while 95 percent of its cotton was organic, recycled or eschewed petroleum during cultivation and processing.

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“We envision a future where every On product is fossil-free, and is returned to us so that the materials can be reused, recycled or repurposed,” Coppetti said. “We have made it our environmental mission to make high-performance products with the lowest possible footprint, that are also engineered for circularity.”

On is on track to reduce its Scope 3 emissions per unit by 55 percent. Like many brands, the vast majority of On’s emissions result supply chain operations. “We are constantly lowering our footprint through smarter design, as well as applying low-impact materials and manufacturing processes,” the executive added. “Our approach is to discover, apply, scale and do it fast, working with the right partners in a team approach to accelerate results.”

The company announced a two-year partnership with Carbios, an innovator in the field of polyester recycling, alongside Patagonia, Puma and Salomon. The outdoor and performance brands teamed up in July with a commitment to using Carbios’ biorecycling technology to find a circular solution for synthetic textile waste. “On is committed to becoming fully circular before the end of the decade,” On senior sustainability manager Adrianne Gilbride said. “Our partnership with Carbios and the other consortium members is an important step towards enabling the industry to game-changing circular technologies at scale. Fiber-to-fiber recycling is a key building block in closing the loop within the textile and footwear industry.”

The brand has teamed with other performance labels to create the Low Impact Alliance.

Over the past year, On joined the Sustainable Apparel Coalition to identify collaborative partners and streamline requests to suppliers for more sustainable material and development options. Alongside Nike, Palmetto Running Company, Brooks, Mill City Running and Fleet Feet, On founded the Low Impact Alliance as a resource for retailers looking to reduce their carbon footprints by carrying more sustainable products, and educate runners about eco-friendly options.

The brand is also looking to increase its social influence, and last year launched an impact partnership called Right to Run. The grassroots effort brings together community organizations concerned with safety, access, awareness, and inclusion throughout the running community. On has teamed up with 17 global reaching 43,000 runners. The company said it aims to reach 100,000 by the end of the year.

“We strive to make diversity and inclusion second nature; a habit infused in the way we live, which positively impacts the world around us,” Coppetti said.