Evoco featured in Footwear Plus

Evoco Wants the Industry to Come Clean

Read the full article on Footwear Plus here

The footwear industry has been very dirty, environmentally speaking. And while overall awareness of the need to clean up its act has increased significantly the past few years—and many sustainable initiatives hold great promise—there’s still tremendous room for improvement and clarity.

Enter Evoco, a components company founded in 2017 that’s on a mission to make genuine sustainable change happen. CEO Jason Robinson says the Toronto company’s efforts represent a step change in comparison to many other green initiatives, particularly the use of recycled plastics that fail to offer a substantial benefit in carbon emission reduction. In contrast, Evoco is all about closing the loop on unsustainable goods—for good.

“We use innovative technology to replace conventional petrochemical-derived materials by harnessing the power of nature to create high-performance, sustainable products,” Robinson explains. “We take great care to minimize CO2 emissions by using the carbon naturally stored in plants and not what’s stored in petroleum from 250 million years ago. We avoid the use of artificial, harmful production chemicals, such as tin-based catalysts and solvent-based blowing agents, which are standard in the industry today. Our products have enduring performance, designed to last through longer user cycles. And, at the end of a product’s life, our foams will biodegrade, returning to the earth to start the cycle again.”

Evoco has aimed its eco-friendly efforts at insoles first. Namely, its FATES brand, an eco-foam insole made with up to 80 percent of sustainably sourced plants that cuts partners’ products carbon emissions by up to 70 percent. Customers include Vans, Timberland, Keen and Kodiak. “Consumers favor comfort, quality and the overall performance of products, and FATES over delivers on all these aspects,” Robinson says. In addition, though, he says consumers are concerned about sustainability, and it behooves brands to meet those expectations. “People understand that even something as simple as buying a pair of shoes can have a negative impact on the environment,” he says. “Collectively, we need to take accountability to challenge the status quo, and realize that we are witnessing the beginning of a next gen material revolution.”

Speaking of, Evoco will expand into other components soon. “We’re expanding our FATES material to create midsoles, outsoles (TPU) and, most excitingly, a plant-based leather alternative (PBLA) for uppers,” Robinson says. “Our PBLA will be 85-90 percent plant-based and free of toxic catalysts. There’s opportunity in other industries, as well.” Evoco recently opened its own plant in Vietnam and plans to expand production capabilities in Europe and the U.S. to meet the expected demand.

In the meantime, there’s cleaning up to be done in the shoe biz. “The fashion industry alone contributes 10 percent of global emissions,” Robinson says, adding that as the world’s population grows, the need to find cleaner alternative increases. “As more people buy more clothes, that increases our global carbon footprint. But it’s also an opportunity for more sustainable materials to produce them.” Robinson adds, “We’re just getting started! Evoco will continue to push boundaries through our innovation pipeline to better support the footwear industry and significantly reduce its carbon impact.”

By Footwear Plus

Kicks Over Coffee: FDRA & Evoco

The Science Behind Van’s new EcoCush Insole: A talk with CEO Jason Robinson & FDRA

Check out the latest Kicks over Coffee chat with our CEO Jason Robinson and FDRA’s Andy Polk. They discuss the latest news with Evoco from winning the Drapers Most sustainable initiative award, product certifications and most importantly how FATES insoles deliver on its promise of sustainability with matching performance.

Why are bio-content certifications like USDA BioPreferred important?

We want our partners and their customers to trust that our products are making an impact. That is why we were certified sustainability by USDA Bio-Preferred. What this means is that 72% of our FATES eco-foam insoles are made from plant materials (i.e. new carbon).

New Carbon is a term that refers to carbon of today, so carbon that was created in recent years (i.e plants and animal matter) not oil which was created thousands of years ago.

How does sustainability impact performance?

At Evoco sustainability and performance are synonymous. The technology that powers FATES eco-foam insoles was designed for performance. The development team created a material that allowed for performance factors to be able customized for our customer’s needs while having a sustainable 70% bio-content.

How are we scaling FATES technology to develop all footwear components and creating more value to our partners?

We are scaling the same technology we use for FATES eco-foam and developing all components of a shoe; midsoles, outsoles (TPU), and most excitingly, a plant-based leather alternative (PBLA) for the upper.

At the same time we are expanding our supply chain to serve our partners better. As we get ready to open our Vietnam production facility, it allows us to better develop products for our customers and tailoring our materials for their needs for seamless integration into their supply chain.

Evoco wins Drapers’ Best Sustainable Initiative of the Year

Evoco wins Drapers' best sustainable initiative of the year

Evoco has won a coveted Drapers Footwear Award.

The results of the Drapers Footwear Awards 2022 were revealed on 23 June at the Grosvenor House London, where the footwear industry’s elite c­ame together at a glittering gala ceremony in recognition and celebration of the sector’s achievements.

Evoco has won in the best sustainability initiative of the year and was praised by Drapers’ Footwear Awards’ panel of expert judges.

The Drapers submission featured our FATES™ technology and its breakthrough innovation of being 70-80% plant-based and without sacrificing performance.

With global brands using FATES™ insoles in their shoes to create sustainable choices for their consumers. The best part of our eco-foam material is that reduces our brand partners emissions by up to 70% compared to petrochemical based foam.

The awards cover the entire spectrum of the footwear sector, with categories including Best Footwear Campaign, Independent Footwear Retailer of the Year, Women’s Footwear Brand of the Year and the Lifetime Achievement award.

The Drapers Footwear Awards are the most respected and prestigious in the footwear retail industry.

Jill Geoghegan, Drapers editor, said:

“Congratulations to our winners, who continue to demonstrate their ingenuity, resilience, and commitment to community and industry.”

Jason Robinson, CEO of Evoco commented: 

“Incredibly proud of Evoco to be recognized as a sustainable leader in the footwear industry. As we continue to work with our partners, we are just getting started on our mission to close the loop on unsustainable goods.”

About Drapers

Drapers has been the leading authority on fashion retailing in the UK since 6 August 1887.

We provide industry news, insightful analysis, commentary, and key data, as well as a growing portfolio of face-to-face networking opportunities.

From the rise of digital to challenges around sustainability and changing consumer habits, this dynamic industry has undergone many changes over the years. What remains throughout though, is the creativity and passion of those that work within it.

At Drapers we strive to educate, inspire, and connect the newcomers and leaders alike in this innovative sector. Our readers trust us to deliver high-quality, independent journalism that helps them to remain competitive in today’s challenging and fast-changing trading environment.

For more information and view all the winners please visit Drapers’ website

Evoco in Forbes

Forbes Feature

Karl Moore, Professor at University of McGill, and contributing writer at Forbes visited Evoco to get a behind the scenes look at how we are disrupting the materials industry with innovation right in the heart of Toronto. Evoco Ltd. is honoured to be featured in Karl Moore’s recent Forbes column. Sitting down for a one-on-one at MaRS Discovery District with our CEO Jason Robinson, their conversation highlights the urgency for companies to offer sustainable solutions through carbon-reducing technologies. 

Jason led a Karl around our various labs and demonstrated how we developed our patented biobased eco-foam, FATES™ and create high preforming products like footwear insoles.

 

Our labs creating formulation and foam samples using custom equipment similar to  industrial settings.

Evoco is closing the loop, by understating how our materials decompose in composting settings. 

Evoco is continuing the innovation by developing new materials such as plant-based leather alternative (PBLA).

 

Read the full article here on Forbes.

Or listen to the entire interview with Karl Moore and Jason Robinson here on Apple TV. 

Working Person feature: Cleansport NXT

Working Person feature: Cleansport NXT

.    Our CleanSportNXT was featured in Working Person blog

Cleansport NXT is the go to for natural  sustainable for odour control from work wear to every day clothing. 

Written by Working Person

Think probiotic power is only good for your gut health? Think again.

Cleansport NXT technology utilizes the power of microbes to eliminate odors on athletic products, like running and work shoes, insoles, and apparel. Live microorganisms are added to fibers to break down the partially-digested organic material left behind by bacteria.

It’s not the actual sweat that causes odors – it’s the partially-digested material that creates it. That’s why the microbes are in place on the fabric to take care of these odor-causing materials.

How does it work?
This innovative technology bonds microbes onto fibers, where they remain dormant until they’re activated by perspiration. Every square inch of fabric contains thousands of these microorganisms.

When sweat appears (which includes that stubborn, halfway-digested material), the tiny yet intricate microorganisms kick it into gear and go right to work getting rid of the partially decomposed organic material by breaking it down.

Once the microbes have dealt with the situation, they go back to their dormant state and wait for the next round.

Image of foot with microbes to demonstrate how Cleansport NXT Technology destroys these microbes to eliminate odors caused by feet.

Environmental Impact
Cleansport NXT is natural and safe for consumers – AND the environment. The unique technology doesn’t have hazardous chemicals, toxic waste, or genetically modified organisms.

It’s naturally occurring and invisible to the naked eye. You’ll feel better knowing this is a safe and clean process that creates non-toxic health benefits for both you and the environment.

Find the Original Post here on Working Person Blog

Learn more about Cleansport NXT here

Cleansport NXT Logo Large Earth

How an Ivey alum is using plant-based chemistry to revolutionize the sustainable materials industry

Written by: Julia Bevacqua for IVEY News, find the article here

What makes a sustainable product?

It might be how it’s manufactured. Maybe it’s about who is making the product. Or maybe it’s how the product is shipped. All of this is true, but perhaps one of the most important factors influencing the sustainability of a product are the materials and innovation processes that make the product.

This is where Jason Robinson, MBA ’16, is making a difference and playing a leading role in building a more sustainable future.

After graduating with a degree in chemical engineering, Robinson dove head first into the clean tech space. He worked on a number of different technology projects from solar to wind to biofuels for nearly two decades. His entrepreneurial spirit followed him throughout, as did his desire to do better by the world through the development of sustainable technology. After years of working on the technical side, Robinson decided to focus on taking sustainable tech to the marketplace, which led him to create Evoco.

Evoco is a clean tech company that focuses on developing sustainable materials through a robust innovation platform. The goal behind Evoco is to harness the power of nature by using plant-based chemistry to replace petrochemical based products. Anything you encounter in your everyday life that uses oil-based materials, from contact lenses to pillows to laundry detergent, are within the scope of Evoco’s vision.

Evoco’s vision is also one of circularity, which they define through a three-pillar platform. The first pillar involves utilising plants instead of oil-based products to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions. The second pillar is about making products that last. This adds value for the customer and requires less resources since products have enduring performance and don’t need to be replaced as frequently, if ever. The third and final pillar of Evoco’s circularity philosophy is biodegradability. In cases where a product has reached its end of life, it will break down so that the carbon that went into the plant that made the product can be returned to the environment. 

Currently, Evoco’s main products on the market are a plant based eco-foam and natural probiotic based odour and cleaning technology, used mainly in shoes for now but with many other potential applications. The company also has over 15 patents pending and expect to release more than 10 new products within the next two years. One of the upcoming products that Robinson is most excited about is a plant-based leather alternative that uses more sustainable materials and a more sustainable method of production too.

While most current customers of Evoco are other companies looking for more sustainable product inputs, Evoco hopes to start selling direct-to-consumer soon as well.

One of the biggest challenges that Evoco has faced is the pandemic. Robinson’s years of experience in sustainable tech and as an entrepreneur gave him the confidence to manage and grow the business, but the pandemic came with a lot of uncertainty that was harder to control. As a small business, but one with a global reach, the pandemic introduced serious supply chain challenges and made it hard to attract new customers. These combined factors stagnated the exponential growth that the company experienced prior to the pandemic.   

But if there is one thing that has driven Robinson and the Evoco team during the pandemic, it has been to continue evolving, inventing, and experimenting with new ideas and technologies. These values are what have helped cement Evoco as more than a product group, but as a leading innovator in the field.

Robinson also notes the shifting culture amongst large companies to adopt more sustainable practices, a trend that has continued and perhaps even heightened during the pandemic. “COVID created a lot of challenges, created a lot of uncertainty, but our future is so bright because we know that everything that we’re working on is a requirement of businesses today and businesses who want to be relevant,” explained Robinson.  

It’s clear that the pandemic hasn’t slowed down the ambitions and potential of Evoco. In September, the company raised $5 million from Forage Capital Partners in its Series A fundraising campaign. The funding will help Evoco develop new innovations and expand into new markets too.

As an Ivey alumnus, Robinson is grateful for what he learned during his time at Ivey and how the networks he gained have helped him in building Evoco. “Ivey gave me better leadership, technical, and strategic tools so that I’m not only leading a company, but driving an industry.” Driving an industry is right. Evoco is reinventing how the products we rely on are made, and they’re only just getting started. With the funding announced in September, Evoco will be able expand its team and come up with even more ways to make our world more sustainable one product at a time. 

Women in Science

Meet our Senior Materials Engineer, Nina Heidarzadeh. Nina completed her postdoc at Queen’s University where she researched innovative solutions for product development and worked on the biodegradability of polyesters. Nina’s passion and curiosity for science came from her mom, who was a science teacher, and inspired her to pursue a career in the field. “I chose engineering because I loved science but I knew I wanted to do something practical and make a real difference by helping the environment.”