VivoBarefoot, a certified B Corp™ company, and Balena, a sustainability entrepreneur’s material science company, have announced a partnership to address the environmental impact of the footwear industry. The collaboration aims to develop fully circular footwear, with recyclable or compostable end-of-life solutions, using Balena’s innovative BioCir®flex material and VivoBarefoot’s radical vision for a scan-to-print digital footwear system called VivoBiome.
Balena’s BioCir®flex material is a high-performance, durable, flexible, fully industrially compostable, and recyclable thermoplastic elastomer, comprising over 50% bio-based content. It aims to replace unsustainable materials such as TPU, PVC, and LDPE, typically used in the footwear industry, and actively reduces the dependence on toxic, fossil fuel-based materials. Through a biological recycling mechanism, products crafted from BioCir®flex can decompose and biodegrade, safely returning to the ground within controlled industrial compost environments in a fully circular life cycle.
VivoBarefoot’s mission to create fully circular footwear aligns with Balena’s vision to develop fully industrially compostable, biobased, recyclable, thermoplastic materials for scaled durable goods production, including footwear. The partnership will unlock a future of on-demand biodegradable footwear that enables customers to reconnect to nature, move naturally, and return their footwear back to nature when they’re done, leaving no waste behind.
Balena’s 3D-printing specific material, BioCir3D, maintains high flexibility similar to TPU, providing reliable and long-lasting 3D-printed products. It is biobased and industrially compostable, reducing the environmental impact of discarded prints and enabling 3D printing of flexible and durable items while giving them the unique property of biodegradability, whereas traditional TPU is non-biodegradable and contributes to plastic waste.
The collaboration sets a remarkable benchmark in the fusion of biomimetic design and biomaterials science, harmonising the relationship between nature and technology. VivoBiome is currently in the testing phase in the UK with a wear-testing group of VivoBiome Pioneers, and the companies plan to test Biome footwear made with Balena’s BioCer within the next 6 months and be available to customers in the next 18 months. The partnership is a transformative journey, driven by a shared commitment to mitigate the negative impact of the footwear industry.