Keen Footwear Gets Caffeinated

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Over the last three years, KEEN researched the best organic materials to use in its midsoles and footbeds and outsoles deciding to go with harvested coffee ground waste. Now two upcoming sneakers styles from KEEN, the Elsa and Eddy Harvest footwear, will debut in August. According to the Portland, Oregon-based firm, by harvesting and upcycling coffee grounds, KEEN is able to reduce the use of virgin petrochemicals used in its footwear. Through this effort, KEEN not only upcycles waste into footwear, but also reduces the amount of coffee grounds going to landfills where they emit greenhouse gas that causes global warming at a level 28 times greater than carbon dioxide.

“Our KEEN Innovation team had an epiphany while in a local coffee shop near our factory in Thailand. They realized the waste grounds were being sent off to the landfill, and wondered whether we could use this organic material in our footwear,” said Erik Burbank, vice president of the KEEN Effect. (Thailand is the home of KEEN’s largest owned factory, and thousands of coffee shops.)

After several months of R&D, KEEN  landed on a powerful model. “By harvesting and upcycling the waste, we’re helping to reduce green-house gasses, and are taking another step in reducing our dependence on petrochemicals,” Burbank explained.

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