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Lignin as cushioning

Lignin-based foams for high performance sports cushioning

Cushioning, for example in sports shoes, is largely made from petroleum-based materials. However, there is a great demand, for example in the athletics market, to switch to sustainable materials. This project evaluates whether the bio-based material lignin in the form of elastomer foam can be an alternative.

Every year, more than 50 million tonnes of lignin are produced from wood pulp and other biorefineries. In simple terms, lignin is nature's own glue. Found in the cell walls of all plants, it binds their fibres and gives them strength. Lignin can be used, for example, in the production of bioplastics, asphalt, batteries, building and construction materials, and as fire and UV protection. Although bioplastics are a large and growing global market, there are not many lignin-based bioplastics available today.

Growth opportunity for sustainable footwear

If we look at the global market for sports shoes, we see that there is a great demand for replacing the plastic material with biomaterials in the shock-absorbing foam, which today is mostly made from petroleum-based material. The plastic material in a sneaker takes about 40 years to break down and every year about 300 million sneakers are discarded. The global sports footwear market is estimated to be worth USD 196 billion by 2030, of which just over 5% is the 'sustainable footwear market', representing a huge opportunity for growth.

Combining knowledge and experience

In this project, we will combine the material and production knowledge and characterisation tools of RISE with the design and prototyping capabilities of Reed Kram AB to produce some small-scale prototypes and test their suitability for the sports footwear market. We will study the market potential and investigate the possibilities to mass produce these materials. The background is that RISE has a long history of working with most of the lignin suppliers on the market today. Over the years, RISE has also developed expertise in modifying lignin into a flexible, stretchable material (elastomer). Reed Kram AB has for several years worked together with prominent manufacturers of sports shoes in the sports and fashion industry. Reed Kram also has the unique ability to transform new materials into small-scale prototypes and thus quickly evaluate their potential. This, in turn, significantly speeds up the customer's decision-making process.


Project name

Lignin-based foams for high performance




Region Stockholm

RISE role in project


Project start


Six months

Total budget



Reed Kram AB



Project members

Supports the UN sustainability goals

12. Responsible consumption and production

Contact person

Abhilash Sugunan


+46 10 516 51 80

Read more about Abhilash

Contact Abhilash
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