OrthoLite Cirql Chemical-Free Foaming: Clean Footwear Production – Beyond Materials

OrthoLite Cirql is ultimately two innovations: a pure, plant-based biodegradable polymer and the clean technology needed to foam that material.

As we pursued the “less-is-more” concept of a circular economy in developing Cirql, we were reminded of an innovator and thinker from another time – Antoine de St. Exupéry , who said, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” 

That’s the future we’re ushering in for footwear.

Cirql’s proprietary chemical-free foaming process eliminates the chemicals, waste, and pollutants that have dominated footwear manufacturing for decades. In their place, we’ve created an ingeniously simple, clean and replicable process for the creation of Cirql.

As the name implies, our patented process is completely free of the chemical

 additives and blowing agents found in conventional foaming methods. Instead, foams are produced physically, using heat, pressure, speed, and a bit of nitrogen–an inert gas from the air we breathe.

The process is fast and non-toxic.

  • Cirql’s industrially compostable and biodegradable polymer is pelletized.
  • The pellets are melted and mixed with liquid nitrogen under extreme pressure.
  • That molten mass is injected into a dedicated steel mold cavity at ballistic speed.
  • An efficient (read=short) cycle time creates the finished foam footwear part, with little to no curing time.

No compounds are created. No waste is created. No hazardous or toxic chemicals are created.

From a footwear manufacturing standpoint, our chemical-free foaming process is a safer option for your factory teams, a safer choice for the environment, and a lower energy expenditure overall.

And of critical importance, this quick, efficient and clean process produces exceptional foam  performance. There is less part warping and less part shrinkage than EVA-plastic foams. Plus, Cirql foams, unlike EVA-plastic foams, can look forward to two, viable end of life solutions. Cirql foams are fully biodegradable via industrial composting. And due to their non-crosslinked structure, Cirql foams are depolymerizable and can be endlessly recycled back into Cirql foam pellets without ever losing performance or quality.

With no chemicals added in the process, and no forever chemicals anywhere in the foam, there is another layer of assurance that no toxicity will be leached in usable or end of life.

Would St. Exupéry say we’ve reached perfection? That’s a big word that doesn’t mesh with our DNA to always keep striving. But with the introduction of Cirql’s chemical-free foaming process, we have created a new standard for truly sustainable footwear manufacturing that is safer and cleaner for people and for the planet.


Comfort & Performance


We’re fueled by innovation, a deep understanding of our brand partners’ needs, true collaboration, and a dedication to limiting our impact on the planet—and it shows in every product we make. That’s how we became the global leader, and why we’re proud to partner with the best brands on earth.