Leather & Footwear

Footwear industry to witness an algae boom

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The Meridian, the Mississippi based Bloom has recently found an alternative to the artificial foam, insoles, midsoles and outsoles in the form of algae and they have started the preparations to harvest the invention. Bloom was launched three years ago with the aim of delivering the most performance driven materials in the most sustainable way possible. The company’s performance foam contains between 15 % and 60 % algae biomass which acts as a natural polymer when combined with foaming ingredients.

 As explained by Jon Van Drunen, Bloom sales and project manager for footwear, in combination with EVA the algae “renatures” and becomes more of a hybrid EVA than any kind of filler. The end product is a type of foam that meets or exceeds performance characteristics of traditional closed-cell flexible foam. Drunen has been found stating, “That’s why we can hit brands performance specs, and Bloom is really a kind of performance foam with an eco-story behind it. Before Bloom, footwear brands had to choose sustainability over performance, but we can give brands both at the same time.”

According to Drunen, the company does not harvest fresh algae but uses the algae that grow naturally in the environment. This in turn, helps clean the environment. It must be noted here that algae does not require any external power in order to grow but is rather the fastest growing plant on earth and grows naturally. Although the primary raw materials are made in the United States of America, the company has partners in Asia where the finished products are made. The company works directly with the brands including Vivo Barefoot. Bloom’s foam has 20 % to 41 % fewer environmental impacts than virgin EVA. One men’s size 10.5 midsole and insole made with Bloom foam, for example, uses 62 fewer gallons of water than traditional EVA and prevents the equivalent of 47 birthday balloons worth of CO2 from being released into the environment. To quote Drunen, “The shoe development process can be lengthy, but reception is great. Brands love the story and love that they don’t lose performance when they use the material, if we’re not in over 100 million shoes in a few years, I’ll be surprised.” 

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