Bayer MaterialScience develops “green shoe” concept

Bayer MaterialScience has developed a unique concept for a “green shoe” that uses a whole host of sustainable materials and technologies. These include polyurethane (PU) raw materials based on natural resources, products for solvent-free coatings and adhesives, and a polycarbonate blend and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) based on renewable resources. Up to 90 percent of all components in the “Ecotrekker” concept shoe can be given eco-compatible properties by using the company’s products.

This integrated concept from Bayer MaterialScience strongly reinforces the company’s commitment to sustainable solutions and once again demonstrates its expertise in developing innovative technologies and materials. Footwear manufacturers, end consumers and, not least, the environment can all benefit equally from the concept.

Global emissions of organic solvents could be reduced by approximately 150,000 metric tons annually simply by using products and technologies developed in-house for solvent- and plasticizer-free textile coatings and adhesive raw materials. Another element of the green shoe concept are microcellular polyurethane elastomer systems for outer soles and midsoles alone, in which the proportion of renewable raw materials is as high as 70 percent. This high proportion makes Bayer MaterialScience the leading raw materials supplier for shoe sole manufacturing in the industry, a position supported by up to 40 percent renewable materials in the polycarbonate (PC) blend.

While shoe soles depend on polyurethane materials having good processing characteristics and a range of properties typical of systems commonly found on the market, abrasion and wear resistance and high flexibility play a key role in waterborne coatings with Impranil®. Adhesives based on waterborne Dispercoll® U polyurethane raw materials ensure eco-friendly, long-lasting and flexible bonding between the upper material and the sole.

The green concept also offers clear health and safety benefits for shoe manufacturers: The waterborne coating and adhesive products are completely solvent-free and, compared with conventional production, the polyurethane products used do not contain any heavy metals. This is also important for disposal, once a shoe has reached the end of its service life.

TPU films from the Dureflex® range from Bayer MaterialScience LLC form a vapor-permeable membrane to reinforce the inner sole, without using plasticizers.

Furthermore, the limited edition concept shoe is equipped with a counterfeit-proof label based on a high-quality polycarbonate film from the Makrofol® ID range. The inscription is carried out using high-contrast laser engraving. In addition, a variety of security features such as holograms can be incorporated.

Just a few years ago, the company opened a global footwear competence center in Shanghai that is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities for footwear applications, ranging from sports to leisure and safety shoes. This center develops innovative materials and technologies for the shoe industry and offers solutions for customers from all over the world.

The concept shoe was developed there in close collaboration with the Simple Factory Group, whose many years of experience in shoe design and production contributed to the successful implementation of the concept.

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