WASHINGTON, April 19, 2017 - Reebok plans to offer its first plant-based footwear this fall, combining cotton and corn into a shoe that is designed to be completely compostable.

The shoe, which will be available in limited numbers this fall, will have a cotton upper and a sole made from Susterra, a corn-based plastic substitute developed by DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products. The product is 100 percent USDA certified bio-based product derived from field corn, according to a company release.

“This is really just the first step for us,” said Bill McInnis, Head of Reebok Future. “With Cotton + Corn we’re focused on all three phases of the product lifecycle. First, with product development we’re using materials that grow and can be replenished, rather than the petroleum-based materials commonly used today.  Second, when the product hits the market we know our consumers don’t want to sacrifice on how sneakers look and perform. Finally, we care about what happens to the shoes when people are done with them. 

“We like to say, we are ‘growing shoes’ here at Reebok,” said McInnis. “Ultimately, our goal is to create a broad selection of bio-based footwear that can be composted after use. We’ll then use that compost as part of the soil to grow the materials for the next range of shoes. We want to take the entire cycle into account; to go from dust to dust.”

Other companies have previously entered this market, but customer response has never been as robust as originally predicted and the majority of fashion designers have not explored sustainable fashion or footwear products. Reebok’s parent, Adidas, has experimented with biodegradable materials, including its Biosteel sneaker, in the past. And companies like Natureworks, now jointly owned by Cargill and PTT Global Chemical, have produced products for clothing and a wide range of other products.

“Reebok’s philosophy is to ‘Be More Human,’ and sustainability is a core part of that belief. As human beings, we have a responsibility to leave this planet as we found it for future generations,” said Reebok President Matt O’Toole.  “Unfortunately, the fact is most shoes just end up in landfills, which is something we are trying to change. As a brand, we will be focusing on sustainability with the Cotton + Corn program as well as other initiatives we have in the works.”