Israeli startup launches 100% biodegradable elastomer footwear

European Rubber Journal
Balena news
December 7, 2022

Tel Aviv – Israeli materials startup Balena has launched what it describes as a "game-changing, fully biodegradable" footwear to help address sustainability issues in the fashion industry.

The ‘BioCir Slides’ are made from Balena’s proprietary material ‘BioCir’ materials, which the company bills as the “first, fully mouldable, biodegradable elastomer," the company said 7 Dec.

According to Balena, it has manufactured the first thousand pairs of the fully compostable slides – coloured and scented using natural cinnamon – in Milan, Italy and is marketing them in Tel Aviv.

The BioCir material, claims the company, is a “unique biodegradable combination of naturally occurring constituents binded by high molecular weight polymers and modifiers.”

The elastomer is stated to be “durable, flexible, soft, and smooth”, making it suitable for footwear with “identical in look and feel” as shoes currently made with alternative materials.

According to Balena, the manufacturing process of the material “is highly scalable”, allowing for collaborations across diverse industries.

Consisting of up to 60% bio-based content, the material has hardness between Shore 70A-90A, which could be as low as 40A when foamed.

It can be processed through injection moulding, extrusion and 3D printing.

As part of the debut of the slides, Balena said it had also introduced a recycling system to facilitate the disposal and biodegradation of the materials in an industrial compost environment.

Customers can return the used footwear to “designated take-back spots” throughout Tel Aviv, where the waste is collected for full biodegradation at a local facility.

According to Balena, the operation model aims at reducing the fashion industry's generation of plastics waste and can be replicated around the world.