KUORI is a project that aims to drive the transition to a circular economy by designing bio-based and biodegradable products following the cradle-to-cradle principles. The interdisciplinary team explores the applicability of a biodegradable material for shoe outsoles using organic waste materials (for example banana peels). The vision is to reduce microplastics released by our shoes that pollute our environment and to eliminate waste by introducing the soles back into the biological life cycle after their use. In collaboration with the Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz, KUORI is developing an innovative flexible material to rethink the way products are currently designed and to revolutionise the shoe industry.
The set milestones for the pilot phase from September 1st, 2021 to January 31st, 2022 have all been achieved. We conducted a patent research with the Institute for Intellectual Property (IGE) and started our intensive research at the Institute for Polymer Processing and Sustainability (IKT). Our project team is growing and consists now of 4-5 full time equivalents in the fields of material science, mechanical engineering, design, business management, and sustainability. Using the requirement profile and press tool by our partner Wildling Shoes
(German sustainable shoe producer), we successfully compounded several material prototypes with different inputs (banana, walnut, almond) and pressed first shoe outsoles. The pressing worked well, and first tests show positive results; extensive trials, however, are still ongoing. Biodegradability tests confirmed that even within the short time period of one month, the decomposition rate was 3-6x faster after the addition of banana peel compared to the virgin material. The life cycle assessment conducted found that our material can perform up to 5x better than conventional shoe sole materials when looking at product maturity (assuming a renewable energy mix). Additional to the research progress, we were nominated for several awards, won competitions, were present at fairs and exhibitions, and have our website online.
Looking ahead, we will continue our research and establish partnerships with shoe producers to implement small test-series using KUORI material as shoe sole. The shoes will then be tested, and feedback collected for further improvements. After successful trials, we will update our life cycle assessment to ensure its positive environmental impact. At the same time, we are evaluating options for a continued research project to develop a biobased and biodegradable biopolymer for our material in cooperation with several research institutes. Regarding financing, we are also assessing the Bridge- and Venture Kick program and are establishing contact with business angels.
| LinkedIn Institute for Polymer Processing and Sustainability, FHNWVon der Bananenschale zur Schuhsohle
, ElleXX Artikel, 03.02.2022KUORI, a biodegradable alternative material
, Nomination «Young Professional» Design Preis Schweiz, October 2021KUORI, waste turns material
, Dutch Design Week 2021, October 2021Swiss a-Peel – how the fruit we eat (and throw away) is driving innovation in sustainable materials
, House of Switzerland, 27. October 2021
Persons involved in the project
KUORI core team:Sarah Kim Harbarth
, Idea & Project LeadTaja Bornand
, Business & Strategy Lead
External Project Partners:
Material Design: Prof. Dr. Christian Rytka
Technical Realisation: Simone Battaglia
Graphic Design and Communication: Benjamin Kunz
R&D Support: Lucca Koller
IT Support: Florian Frei und Nicolas Järmann
Fashion Support: Marie Klock
Last update to this project presentation 14.04.2022