A shoe company and a software company have collaborated to introduce a 3D-printed, compostable shoe, combining fashion and sustainability.

The Collaboration

Vivobarefoot, a shoe company, and Balena, a software company, wanted to address idea to address the issue of the harmful impact that the footwear industry has on the environment. Balena works towards managing plastics’ end-of-life across several industries. For example, the complexity of shoes, made of different materials and plastics, makes it difficult to recycle and reintegrate used shoes. They wanted to create a biodegradable shoe with a circular end-of-life system for footwear.

Vivobarefoot has the same beliefs. They are a certified B corporation, which means they voluntarily met the highest standard for social and environmental performance. Part of their efforts is a journey to create circular barefoot footwear. Their goal is to have shoes with recyclable or compostable end-of-life solutions. Their collaboration with Balena makes for a perfect pair with the same goal in mind.

Shoes made from biodegradable materials
3D-printed shoes made from biodegradable materials; Photo: Vivibarefoot

Nature and Technology

Behind the partnership is the combination of technology and nature. Using Balena’s technology and biodegradable materials, Vivobarefoot can produce VivoBiome. VivoBiome is what the shoe company calls “their radical vision for a scan-to-print digital footwear system.” In short, it’s a 3D-printed shoe. Moreover, the material allows the shoe to be flexible, reliable, and long-lasting. With the environmentally friendly material, it reduces the environmental impact of discarded prints. Products made from this material cut down on the use of materials made from fossil fuels. They aim to replace these harmful materials.


The Shoes

High flex biodegradable shoes
Biodegradable shoes made for comfort and flexibility; Photo: Vivobarefoot

The shoe is an interesting concept. Because they are 3D printed, there are limited things you can do with the design. At first look, they do seem to be light and flexible. Vivobarefoot says the footwear enables the person wearing them to “reconnect to nature, move naturally, and return your footwear back to nature when you’re done.”

VivoBiome is currently being tested in the U.K. There is more testing planned for the shoe in the next 6 months. In the next 18 months, the shoe company plans to make the shoes available to the public.

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