Are recyclable shoes the future of footwear?

A Swiss running startup just launched the first truly circular sales model in clothing.

Interest in sustainable fashion has been rising for years.

Are recyclable shoes the future of footwear?

While many companies offer refurbished styles and recyclable materials, On, a Swiss running upstart, is looking to take sustainability a step further.

On’s new Cloudneo running shoe can be recycled to create a new pair, making it one of the first truly circular sales models in clothing, per The Wall Street Journal.

So how does it work?

On’s Cloudneo model starts with a subscription:

  • Customers pay $29.99 per month for an endless supply of Cloudneo running shoes
  • When the shoes get beat up, customers can return them to On, which will send them a new pair
  • On then ships the returned shoes to a recycling plant where they’re cleaned, ground, and melted into plastic pellets, then sent to factories for assembly

If customers cancel their subscription without returning the shoes, they have to pay a penalty as part of the agreement.

The model…

… isn’t without its challenges. Its success depends on a number of variables, including how many people join, how long they subscribe for, and how long the shoes last.

The $30/mo. price tag could also limit the model’s appeal to a niche running crowd — many of whom might not be willing to trade performance for sustainability.

But if successful, there’s one big benefit of the model — the more shoes that get returned, the more recycled material to use for new pairs, meaning each new pair will have a smaller impact on the environment.

Topics: Climate Clothing

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