Dow and Crocs are joining forces to develop sustainable plant-based footwear. The news comes as Dow launches ENGAGE™ REN, a more eco-friendly version of its ENGAGE™ high-performing polyolefin elastomers (POEs).
According to the Swiss materials science company, the POEs are produced using a new technology called ECOLIBRIUM. This makes it possible to develop materials that have a lower carbon footprint while retaining the same high-performance properties. ENGAGE™ REN is said to offer improvements in foam quality, polymer consistency, resilience, durability, and abrasion resistance. The polymers also allow for lighter foams with no reduction in hardness.
Crocs will be the first footwear brand to bring Dow’s new technology to market. The materials producer has already begun supplying Crocs with plant-based polymers, which the latter company will use to produce its proprietary Croslite™ material. Over time, Crocs will scale up the percentage of these polymers used in its shoes.
The market for sustainable footwear is growing rapidly, with a CAGR of 6.2% expected through to 2026. Growth is being driven by environmental regulations and increasing awareness of sustainability issues.
In particular, plant-based footwear is thriving, as major brands launch vegan versions of their classic shoes and innovative new materials become available. The vegan footwear market was worth $24.86 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand at a rate of 7.2% between 2020 and 2030.
“Manufacturers, brands, retailers, and consumers all recognize the role they play in reducing the impact of climate change and as a result, are seeking out more sustainable options,” said Imran Munshi, Global Bio-Polymers and Consumer Market Manager at Dow. “Combining a lower carbon footprint and no compromise on performance, ENGAGE™ REN provides the footwear industry with an innovative solution that enhances the sustainability profile of their products, while maintaining the same high-performance results they’ve come to expect from Dow.”