Dahsheng Chemical (DSC) wants to usher its customers into a new era of footwear foam.
The performance foam manufacturer has introduced Dreamcell Zero, a foam technology made with 100 percent in-house recycled foam waste that offers performance and comfort while making a positive environmental impact.
“The pioneering Dreamcell Zero innovation marks a milestone in DSC’s sustainability journey and our commitment of achieving zero waste,” Johnson Chang, CEO of Dahsheng Chemical, said. “By utilizing innovative solutions to transform our foam waste into new products, we are taking a decisive step toward a circular economy in the footwear supply chain, closing the loop on waste, and creating a sustainable cycle of production and consumption.”
The proprietary polyurethane (PU) foam compound utilizes 100 percent reused foam waste to create an underfoot foam that meets the highest comfort and performance standards of both brands and their consumers, according to DSC’s qualitative and quantitative analysis. When the used foam is combined with a water-based binder and a recycled textile, the Taiwan-based performance foam supplier can offer an eco-friendlier footwear component.
“Footwear is very much a kind of marriage between art and science,” Jonathan Morris, senior operations manager of DSC, said. “[Testing] runs the gamut of different entities gathering information about the performance of our foams at different stages of the development of a shoe.”
The 100 percent waste-based Dreamcell Zero comes as the company announced it received the British Standards Institution’s Material Carbon Footprint Verification ISO 14067, solidifying its commitment to creating sustainable foam products and supporting its footwear and apparel customers in doing the same.
The carbon footprint verification was conducted on three DSC factories in Vietnam, covering the entire lifecycle of the product, from the acquisition of raw materials to transportation, energy and waste. In collaboration with the Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration, DSC also established the first Product Category Rules (PCR) for the insole product category.
“At DSC, we believe in creating products that not only perform, but also support a low-carbon footprint future,” Chang said. “This verification is just the beginning of our journey toward a more sustainable and transparent supply chain, and we’re proud to be leading the way in this exciting new era of eco-innovation.”
DSC also launched Run the Relay, a plan to achieve a zero-carbon, zero-waste future. The program focuses on reducing carbon emissions, transitioning to renewable energy, recycling waste and fostering innovation and employee engagement. DSC has set targets for 2025, including a 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions, closed-loop manufacturing with 100 percent of in-house foam waste recycled, and expanding the use of renewable energy to power manufacturing facilities.
“At DSC, we’re on a mission to make the world a better place, one insole at a time,” Chang said. “With our material carbon footprint verification and Run the Relay, we’re leading the way in creating a more sustainable and responsible future, and we couldn’t be more excited to share this journey with our partners and customers.”
Founded in 1945, Dahsheng Chemical is known for its performance foam Durapontex and Dreamcell, supplying its foam materials and components to brands including Adidas, Puma, Reebok, Skechers and Converse.
DSC isn’t the only company making sustainable moves in the foam world.
OrthoLite, a supplier of open-cell foam technology, and Novamont, a B Corp bioplastics producer, announced an exclusive partnership in creating OrthoLite Cirql, the world’s first circular foam material solution for footwear.
OrthoLite Cirql is a patented footwear materials solution that combines OrthoLite’s 26 years of experience in foaming polymers and Novamont’s bio-based, compostable and recyclable polymer to provide the first technology that reduces the high impact of the manufacturing process with multiple end-of-life disposal options.
According to a new Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) carried out by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a typical pair of running shoes generates 14 kg/30 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to running a 100-watt light bulb for a week. Every year—in the United States alone—people throw away more than 300 million pairs of shoes, 95 percent of which end up in landfills.
OrthoLite Cirql will offer a traditional plastic-free, scalable, circular material to the more than 500 footwear brands that use OrthoLite technology, including New Balance, Fendi, Ecco and Cole Haan.
“OrthoLite Cirql illuminates the path forward to truly circular footwear,” Glenn Barrett, CEO and founder of OrthoLite, said. “We are excited to be partnering with Novamont to escalate scalable solutions to drive positive change in the global footwear industry. This partnership is built on trust and transparency, as well as a relentless commitment to equip our 500-plus global footwear brand partners to have access to single-source circular materials, starting with the midsole.”
OrthoLite sought out the high-tech bio-polymer company because of Novamont’s activities in the field of the circular bioeconomy and for its 30 years of experience in the development of chemical and biotechnological processes to create low-impact certified biodegradable and compostable solutions.
“Proving by facts that it is possible to ‘do more will less,’ Novamont has always based its model on the development of products conceived as true catalysts for change, which are capable of activating much greater systemic effects than the product itself, and not as mere substitutes for traditional ones,” Catia Bastioli, CEO and founder of Novamont, said. “Our philosophy has always been to avoid the problems of pollutant accumulation in the environment, and the fruitful collaboration with OrthoLite, a company that is also committed in finding solutions and not just products, allows us to bring our approach to the footwear industry for the first time.”
OrthoLite Cirql is free from “forever chemicals” and is responsibly sourced from non-GMO traditional vegetable raw materials derived from plants plus synthetic biodegradable materials. The material can be returned to the production cycle by low-energy, advanced chemical recycling to help keep materials in use or back to nature as fully compostable through selected industrial composting methods and processors. Using existing and new, closed loop, take back, recycling streams for footwear, scalable end-of-life management will involve collaboration with footwear brands and the waste management sector. OrthoLite Cirql will also help avoid the accumulation of persistent microplastics as particles will biodegrade similar to natural polymers such as cellulose.
Novamont Research developed a tailor-made bio-polymer for OrthoLite Cirql’s chemical-free foaming process, which uses nitrogen (from the air) combined with renewable energy. Unlike the conventional foaming methods currently used, no dangerous or toxic chemical additives are used to produce Cirql. The bio-polymer pellets are melted and mixed with liquid nitrogen under extreme pressure in an injection molding process. This results in efficient cycle times that reduce energy consumption and create a finished part without downtime, polymerization or waste.
Certified as a B Corp in 2020, Novamont is a member of the United Nations’ Global Compact network, a leadership platform for developing and implementing responsible corporate policies and practices. OrthoLite Cirql marks the company’s debut in the footwear industry. Together, the partners offer an eco-friendly solution for the $400 billion global footwear industry.