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Reebok Plans to Bring Plant-Based Footwear to Market

“We like to say, we are ‘growing shoes’ here at Reebok,” said Bill McInnis, head of Reebok Future.

Reebok announced its Cotton + Corn initiative Tuesday, set to bring plant-based footwear to stores later this year. The first shoe release will be comprised of an upper made from organic cotton and a base originating from industrial grown corn—not a food source.

“This is really just the first step for us,” said McInnis. “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.”

For the Cotton + Corn initiative, Rebook collaborated with Dupont Tate & Lyle Bio Products, a high-performance bio-based solution manufacturer that creates Susterra propanediol. The 100-percent USDA certified bio-based product is derived from field corn and can be used to make soles for footwear.

Reebok’s goal is to make a large selection of bio-based shoes that can ultimately end up being composted and used as a part of the soil to grow material for the next batch of 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.”