On Is Launching a Recycling Program That Lets You Trade Your Sneakers for New Ones

It's also developing a new running shoe that's 100 percent recyclable.

Runner wearing On Cyclon sneakers
Photo: On

Even if you're a sustainability queen, running shoes can be tricky. They're typically made with at least some percentage of virgin plastic, and if you don't replace them regularly, you risk injury. But Swiss running brand On has come up with a way to lessen the environmental impact of sneaker consumption. The brand announced that it will launch a recycling program that will let you trade in an old pair of running shoes for a new pair made from completely recycled materials.

The concept is a subscription model. Instead of buying shoes, you commit to a $30/month membership to receive your first pair. Once they're worn out, you notify On, the brand sends you a new pair, and you ship back the old shoes. The pair you returned gets recycled to create the materials for someone else's shoe, creating an endless cycle. You'll be able to swap your shoes as frequently as every six months, according to the brand. "While there have been earlier releases of performance shoes made from recycled materials, and other programs that encourage customers to recycle their shoes, we wanted to create a fully cyclical process that would incentivize all participating customers to have their shoes recycled, every time," the On team tells Shape. (

On is debuting the new program with a unisex, neutral running shoe called the Cyclon, which is a zero-waste shoe, according to the brand. The top of the shoe and its laces are made from an undyed yarn created with castor beans, and it's formed from a single piece, which eliminates excess material. The sole is made from a polyamide complex called Pebax. While the partly bio-derived elastomer material isn't biodegradable, it can be recycled to create new shoes. (The initial batch of Cyclons will incorporate virgin material.)

On is known for lightweight running shoes featuring its Cloudtec sole, which is designed to cushion your landing and help propel you forward. The new Cyclon will also emphasize a lightweight and powerful rebound. On is incorporating its Speedboard layer above the midsole, designed to flex when your foot strikes the ground, then release the energy you've generated to help launch you forward.

The result: a shoe designed with performance and sustainability in mind. "We can take the whole product, shred and grind it," the On team states. "In the first step, the material will be used to make Speedboards for the next Cyclon shoe. The high-performance polyamides will be recycled many times over, so with each cycle, we are protecting the earth's resources." (

The Cyclon is still a work in progress with a projected fall 2021 launch. But if you're already sold on the idea, you can pre-register now for $30, which will serve as your first month's payment once the program launches. That way you can be one of the first to enter On's cycle of running shoe reincarnation.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles