Balena raises large seed round to change fashion industry's biggest problem

European Rubber Journal
Balena news
December 7, 2022

Tel Aviv, Israel – Materials startup Balena, founded in 2020, has launched fully biodegradable footwear to address sustainability problems in the fashion industry. The ‘BioCir slides’ are made of Balena’s proprietary ‘BioCir’ material, touted as the “first fully moldable, biodegradable elastomer,” the company announced.

Balena’s founders call this a game changer. Balena manufactured the first thousand pairs of the fully compostable cinnamon-coloured and scented slides in Milan, Italy and is selling them in Tel Aviv. It solves the problem of reducing petroleum-based materials in fashion. Every year, millions of garments end up in landfills or are burned, polluting the planet and oceans with dangerous microplastics that do not biodegrade.

Balena claims its BioCir material is a “unique biodegradable blend of natural ingredients bound by high-molecular-weight polymers and modifiers.” The elastomer is reportedly “durable, flexible, soft and smooth,” suitable for footwear with an “identical look and feel” to shoes made with plastics. Balena says its manufacturing process is “highly scalable and quickly replicated,” removing barriers to entry and enabling collaborations across industries.

Maria Zherebtsova, Raw Ventures Investment Director, said: “Raw Ventures proudly supports Balena because while terms like ‘sustainable’ and ‘biodegradable’ are becoming overused, David and his team are demonstrating in real life how to implement truly sustainable, eco-friendly fashion footwear that specifically tackles the fashion industry’s biggest issue: a product’s end of life.”

With the Slides debut, Balena also introduced a Bio-cycling system to facilitate disposal and biodegradation of the materials in an industrial composting environment. Customers can return used footwear to “designated drop-off points” in Tel Aviv, where waste is collected for full biodegradation at a local facility.