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New biodegradable sole from Earth Inc
17
Mar '10
Long known within the footwear industry for its commitment to sustainable practices, Earth announces a major forward step in its product design with the introduction of a new biodegradable sole that will stretch across the breadth of its spring offerings.

In line with Earth's 'Good for You. Good for the Planet' philosophy, the Spring 2010 introduction of a new biodegradable sole coincides and honors the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, and also represents the latest in a long-line of sustainable innovation from Earth, Inc.:

• Spring'09 marked the debut of BIOFoam cushioning, a unique form-fitting footbed with memory properties that helps absorb shock, and is manufactured with 70% recycled content to help reduce excess disposal into landfills.
• Across its line, Earth employs water-based, rather than resin-based, adhesives. While many solvents are classified as volatile organic compounds, using water-based adhesives greatly reduces harmful environmental run-off during manufacturing.
• For the majority of its styles, Earth uses post-consumer recycled plastic bottles in the manufacture of both its quarter and footbed linings.
• Insole boards – protective inserts packed with shoes to ensure they retain form - are comprised of recycled milk cartons for all closed-toe shoes and boots.
• Shoe bags - used to protect upper materials during transit and changing temperatures - are manufactured from either abundantly available flax or PLA, a thermoplastic that is also biodegradable.
• Finally, box packaging – when used – is glue-free, designed from a one-piece construction, is comprised of 30% post-consumer recycled content, and is printed using soy-based inks. Season-over-season, Earth has increased its delivery of products that do not require traditional box packaging in the spirit of reducing boxes that are often discarded after use.

The new biodegradable sole (or EPA – Environmental Plastic Additive as it is known within scientific circles) is part of Earth, Inc.'s investment to technology transfer from industries beyond footwear. To date, the technology's emergence has come principally from the home household industry. Its adoption has been steadily increasing in the design of products such as coat hangers, shampoo containers, and beverage cups.

As it applies to Earth Footwear, the biodegradable sole will marry a natural biodegradable substance (starch) with a non-decomposable synthetic plastic. Using modern nanotechnology, the additive transforms the plastics used in Earth's outsoles into a biodegradable material. By applying the additive to a conventional outsole, the molecular structure or performance properties of the sole are not changed in any way.

However, the decomposition texture is fundamentally altered so that once a shoe has matured through its consumer life cycle, and is disposed of, the decomposition process of the sole is hyper-accelerated. The end result is a byproduct that becomes an organic substance within landfill.

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