World’s first fully compostable footwear on the way
Author: Abigail Klein Leichman
David Roubach would prefer that customers keep their Balena slides forever. But knowing that most footwear eventually gets discarded, his startup made these Italian-designed slides from a flexible, 100 percent compostable material instead of plastic. And he says that’s a first in the developing “eco-shoe” sector. Conventional shoes contain plastic, glue and other materials that can take up to 1,000 years to fully biodegrade, often emitting toxins as they break down. These shoes are Roubach’s opening bid in a battle to bring sustainability and circular economy into the infamously wasteful fashion industry. An estimated 92 million tons of apparel are thrown away globally each year, including billions of shoes piling up in landfills. Developed in Israel, Balena’s moldable BioCir provides a viable alternative to the plastic that now makes up about 60% of apparel content. A thousand pairs of prototype slides were distributed in Tel Aviv. Balena set up collection spots in the city where the used shoes can be dropped off for industrial composting under controlled conditions.