Balena and ForEver Unveil BioCir®Flex Compostable Soles

Balena news
February 29, 2024

Balena, a Raw Ventures portfolio company, has partnered with ForEver, a renowned creator of high-quality soles, to ensure the soles of your shoes don’t actually last forever. 
Following on from the success of a partnership with Vivobarefoot, making 3D printed shoes, this new partnership offers fully compostable soles, made possible by Balena’s BioCir®flex biobased, biodegradable  material with advanced perfromance and ForEver’s mould injection processes. 

In an era where the environmental impact of clothing is under intense scrutiny, Balena continues to apply their material science innovations to the footwear industry, offering a glimpse into a future where footwear is both high-performing and fully circular. 

The Power of Partnership

For over 50 years, ForEver has been at the forefront of sole manufacturing, providing bespoke solutions to some of the world's most recognised shoemakers. By joining forces with Balena, they leverage the innovative BioCir®flex material to craft fully compostable soles that do not compromise on durability or flexibility.
Balena CEO, David Roubach said the partners have been able to quickly scale the solution because using BioCir®flex doesn’t require any additional investment in systems on ForEver’s part. 

“It’s the same conventional machine that they use for other plastics, and I think this is what is so unique. We are not asking for any different injection moulding machine; we don’t need to request anything else. It is exactly the same infrastructure used for polluting plastics.” 

Material Science to Disrupt Fashion

Despite mounting pressure, the fashion industry remains one of the least environmentally sustainable industries globally, accounting for approximately 2.1 billion metric tonnes of greenhouse-gas emissions each year equal to 4% of annual global emissions. 

This has led to a much-needed change in the fashion industry as brands have turned their focus to developing circular business models and ways of reducing emissions in their supply chain operations.  

In light of rising consumer demand, investors are increasingly gravitating towards investing in sustainable solutions in the space. Investments into fashion start-ups over the past year suggest that the time is ripe for growth investments in innovative fashion businesses who wish to focus on sustainability and expanding their circular models. Balena, go one step further, disrupting both the production and consumer side of the industry. 

Balena is Footwear’s Solution

Balena and ForEver's introduction of BioCir Flex Compostable Soles is a response to the urgent need for sustainable practices within the fashion industry.
The soles built from Balena's proprietary biodegradable thermoplastic elastomer, BioCir®flex - which boasts a biobased content range of 51-85% - are designed to meet the global footwear standards for performance while ensuring full industrial compostability at the end of their lifecycle.

With polluting plastics making up about 60% of clothing material worldwide, leading global fashion brands are racing to find sustainable solutions to handle their products’ end of life.

The fashion and footwear sectors have long struggled with the complexities of recycling, largely due to the diverse and often non-circular materials used in products. BioCir Flex soles present a solution that is not only environmentally sound but also practical, proposing a new standard for the industry to strive towards. 

However, Balena acknowledges the challenge in linking brands with industrial composters for compostable footwear and commits to facilitating this process. The company has already established a network of five global industrial composters that have validated BioCir®flex for use in their facilities, and now Balena aims to directly connect brands purchasing compostable shoes from ForEver with these composters, simplifying the path towards compostable footwear.

André Campos, sales manager at ForEver, said: “The partnership with Balena is a thrilling journey fueled by a shared vision of innovation and environmental responsibility. Embracing BioCirflex is more than a collaboration and we’re excited to tread this sustainable path with Balena, shaping a future where every step is eco-conscious.”

By partnering with like-minded brands and compost facilities, Balena is fostering a circular economy that benefits everyone – from consumers to manufacturers, and the environment. The introduction of BioCir Flex soles is a critical step in this journey, offering a viable, sustainable solution that addresses the end-of-life problem plaguing the fashion industry.