Recommended NZ | Guide to Money | Gimme: Competitions - Giveaways

Kiwi company Orba launches world-first footwear designed to biodegrade

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

An innovative Kiwi footwear company is fighting back against the pollution caused by 20 billion shoes produced globally every year and destined for landfill, with the launch of the world-first Orba Ghost - a stylish street sneaker made almost entirely of natural materials and designed to biodegrade.

The revolutionary result of a design process melding inspiration, aesthetics, technical excellence, ethics and environmentalism, almost every aspect of Orba shoes, from sole and upper to eyelets, stitching and lace-ends, is made from natural, biodegradable materials, with 94 percent of it plant-based, including flax, kenaf (similar to hemp) and ramie (similar to thistle).

The company has developed a unique, bespoke bio-rubber sole made of natural rubber, rice husk ash and coconut oil, and insoles of cork, coconut husk and natural rubber - a formulation that is not only a global first, but is designed to eliminate the problem of disposed shoes in landfill taking from 40 to 1000 years to break down.

Orba sustainability manager Gillian Boucher says the company’s vision is for a footwear industry where all polluting and unsustainable factors can be entirely removed, while providing good products, profits, and social benefits.

"Alongside addressing waste and pollution, we’re also choosing materials that are highly regenerative and more sustainable to source than typical footwear materials," she says.

"For every pair of shoes we sell, there's one less pair of polluting, synthetic shoes heading for future landfill".

Gillian says environmental integrity and ethical production doesn’t have to be compromised for quality, comfort or longevity, with the shoes meeting international standards for abrasion, slip resistance, flexibility and tear strength. They also incorporate third-party eco-certified materials, such as Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) to ensure all processes, from farming to final production, have been measured against sustainability criteria.

"Orba shoes are a collaboration, with our team spanning New Zealand and Indonesia, where they are made," she says.

"Indonesia has one of the largest footwear manufacturing industries in the world, and we believe in social equity and fair treatment across our global community, so our standards include no discrimination, fair remuneration and decent work hours as just a few of the benefits for our people".

The business is also funding training programmes for its smaller, non-certified suppliers, such as traditional style flax weavers, to support their sustainable growth for future certification.

Gillian says that Orba views all footwear companies moving towards sustainability goals as teammates, rather than competitors.

"It’s the strength of our focus on choosing only sustainable, low impact, plant-based materials and in promoting social development programmes in the communities we are working in that sets us apart".

Orba shoes are currently only available in the New Zealand market.

For more information visit

All articles and comments on have been submitted by our community of users. Please notify us if you believe an item on this site breaches our community guidelines.