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OrthoLite® Announces Zero Waste Initiative

July 27, 2021

AMHERST, Mass. (July 27, 2021) – As the industry leader of branded, high performance comfort footwear solutions, OrthoLite® recognizes a powerful opportunity to also lead the sustainability revolution in footwear. Among one of several actions that will be announced in 2021, OrthoLite unveils its Zero Waste Initiative.

OrthoLite is the insole supplier of choice for over 350 leading footwear brands worldwide, across all categories – athletic, running, comfort, golf, lifestyle, and fashion – and OrthoLite insoles are utilized in more than 500 million pairs of shoes every year. With trust-based relationships through its global supply chain and production facilities located in countries around the world, OrthoLite’s commitment to sustainable, circular solutions has an immense and measurable global impact.

Zero waste is a significant step toward pollution reduction and the regeneration of natural systems—central tenets of circular, sustainable solutions. This commitment includes investment in a proprietary manufacturing system that elevates waste minimization and management beyond the traditional standards of LEAN manufacturing. It also includes participation with the Higg Index to transparently share the company’s progress and help other manufacturers work toward the same.

“Our intent is not only to minimize our own environmental footprint, it’s also to lead the entire footwear industry in doing the same,” said Glenn Barrett, founder and CEO of OrthoLite. “Environmental stewardship responsibility is a critical area of focus for our business. Our innovation team is focused on climate-friendly products and development while our C-Suite is increasing efforts to support climate-aligned and sustainable projects. Through our community of brand partners and global supply chain, OrthoLite’s commitment to sustainable best practices can have a massive positive impact on sustainability in footwear.”

Pursuing sustainability has been one of OrthoLite’s core values since the company launched 25 years ago with insoles containing recycled rubber. Every OrthoLite insole has since contained a minimum of five-percent recycled rubber.

For perspective, OrthoLite insoles are used in over 500 million pairs of shoes every year. The inclusion of five-percent recycled content prevents more than 300 metric tons of rubber waste from going to landfills each year. Additional recycling and efficiency efforts keep 200 tons of foam waste from going to a landfill.

Does five-percent make a difference? Emphatically, yes. Is it enough of a difference for OrthoLite to rest on its laurels? Absolutely not. The company continues to push for and implement solutions across the full spectrum of sustainability.

Achieving zero waste will require discipline, a focus on continual improvement, and empowering the entire OrthoLite family of employees to be actively engaged in proposing and implementing new solutions. OrthoLite has made significant investments toward the goal and more will be announced on the near horizon. Specific current investments include:

  • In-house recycling facilities. These optimize the supply chain from end-to-end by capturing and repurposing all waste material. Closing the loop on post-production waste is a crucial step.
  • Castor oil. Our proprietary bio-oil is made from castor beans–a renewable, quick-growing, low-water plant that reduces demand for petroleum and uses fewer natural resources to produce. By opting for this bio-oil formulation, OrthoLite brand partners have the opportunity to reduce resource consumption and their own supply chain carbon footprint.
  • On-site wastewater treatment. OrthoLite processes wastewater at its facilities around the world. Processed water that can’t be reused is converted into solid refuse and managed to the most stringent environmental standards.
  • Reusable shipping boxes. The OrthoLite® Blue Box Program provides brand partners a choice to use reusable and recyclable boxes instead of cardboard. Reducing cardboard saves trees, decreases overall carbon footprint through the supply chain, and saves hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per year.
  • Daily recycling stations. OrthoLite provides recycling stations for its team members to responsibly dispose of cans, glass, and paper.
  • Higg Implementation. In 2019, OrthoLite began implementing the Higg Index auditing process across seven key work streams that measure and improve environmental, labor and social practices in its factories. Benchmarked against the global footwear industry, OrthoLite is leading with high scores in its factories in Vietnam, Indonesia, and China.

All of these steps move OrthoLite closer to its end goal of Zero Waste.

“Our global team will continue to be all in with our commitment to furthering sustainability in footwear, both in efficiencies, sourcing and supply, and in industrial recycling. OrthoLite’s global reach with our brands, factories and suppliers creates a powerful ripple effect with our heightened commitment,” Barrett explained. “This path is not the easy way forward, but it is most certainly the right one as we enter our next 25 years. And we look forward to affecting positive change faster by working with our global supply chain and brand partners to invest in and implement circular solutions.”

This Zero Waste initiative positions OrthoLite to proactively address the biggest materials and manufacturing challenges preventing the footwear industry from implementing and achieving circular solutions.

Stay tuned. The next big leap in sustainable innovation from OrthoLite is just around the corner.

About OrthoLite®

OrthoLite, headquartered in Amherst, Mass., is the world’s #1 supplier of open cell foam technology found in more than 500 million shoes across all categories each year from brands such as Adidas, ASICS, Bata, Clarks, Cole Haan, Converse, Danner, ECCO, Everlane Jordan, Kenneth Cole, Lacoste, New Balance, Nike, Reebok, Rothy’s, Sanuk, Timberland, Toms, Wolverine and Vans. OrthoLite has a long-standing history of meaningful partnerships and sponsorships that demonstrate a dedicated commitment to supporting its customers, consumers, brand partners and the footwear industry. OrthoLite is the Official Insole sponsor of the New York Yankees, and strong supporter of the Two Ten Foundation. Stay up to date with company news by visiting OrthoLite.com and following OrthoLite on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. To learn more about the benefits of OrthoLite or to purchase a pair of insoles, visit www.ortholite.com.