Steamboat-based insole company looks to cushion impacts on the environment
For more than six years, Dynamic Foam Products, a Steamboat Springs-based footwear company, has been working to find new materials for its insoles that will help cushion the impact the manufacturing process they use has on the environment.
“We’re proud to be here at Steamboat,” founder and owner Peter Daley said. “We are also proud to be doing our part in the world of eco-products.”
Daley started Dynamic Foam Products in 1987 as a custom insole business that has evolved into an overseas manufacturing operation that makes foam insoles in Korea and Vietnam for footwear companies like Merrell, Salomon, Altra, Athalonz and Scarpa. They also make aftermarket insoles for Superfeet. The company has become a leader in quality and comfortable footwear. Dynamic Foam combines anatomical shape with state-of-the-art materials.
Six years ago, Daley said his company started exploring new ways to manufacture foam insoles without using petroleum-based products.
Daley said Dynamic Foam recognized its responsibility to help protect the environment several years ago and has developed exclusive iON Element materials, which are derived from a single-source recycling process that uses EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) film from South Korea, where most farming is done in greenhouses. Daley said film is stripped off the greenhouses, cleaned and rolled.
“We developed this material from the coverings on those greenhouses,“ Daley said. “We melt it down and repalletize it, and that’s the base of our foam.”
Recently, Dynamic Foam took another important step when it teamed up with BLOOM, a sustainable materials manufacturer based in Mississippi, to create a high-performance EVA using bio-based algae that is mixed with the post-consumer recycled EVA content to further expand its more environmentally responsible approach to making the nearly 7 million insoles it produces each year.
“BLOOM materials use algae to clean water, reduce CO2 emissions and replace plastics in consumer products,” said Ryan Hunter, co-founder and chief technology officer of BLOOM. “Combining our impact-focused BLOOM materials with post-consumer recycled materials from Dynamic Foam allow us to offer foams that can better achieve a high level of performance while also communicating the eco-fact benefits in a relatable way.”
Dynamic Foam and other footwear manufacturers continue to look for ways to improve the manufacturing process in a way that will continue to benefit the environment. He said the move has also proven to be more cost effective as the price for virgin EVA has risen more than 100% this last year, while the process of using the combination of recycled materials and BLOOM’s algae-based products costs about 30% more.
Katie O’Hara, director of account management at Dynamic Foam, said the new manufacturing process has kept 1.9 million kilograms of film out of landfills.
“Sustainability initiatives continue to be a priority for footwear and other consumer goods brands,” O’Hara said. “Previously companies would have choose between bio and post-consumer recycled material, so we developed a material using both.”
John F. Russell is the business reporter at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach him, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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