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Sustainable Sugarcane Shoe Soles

Allbirds' SweetForm Use Sugarcane to Make Eco-Friendly Soles

— August 1, 2018 — Eco
San Francisco-based footwear label Allbirds has always been focused on creating sustainable footwear products and its latest project is entitled 'SweetFoam.' The label introduces the sustainable material after three years of development. It is essentially a sole material that is constructed from renewable sugarcane. The idea to initiate this project stemmed from the idea that there was a lack of eco-based, non-petroleum-based choices for shoe soles. Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger of Allbirds worked alongside Brazillian petrochemical label Braskem to create this vision three years ago.

The SweetFoam physically draws from sugarcanes from dense and wet fields in the South of Brazil. Drenched in rain, the fields are treated using very little fertilizer to aid its growth to be further processed in facilities that run completely on renewable energy. This makes the SweetFoam material the world's first ever carbon negative EVA polymer.

To create the soles, the sugarcane goes through a sugar mill to separate it from refined table sugar and molasses. The molasses goes through a process that meets yeast to metabolize the sugar and turn it to ethanol. Going through further chemical processes, it transforms into EVA to be blended into its final SweetFoam product.