Cradle to cradle signals end of microplastics

Hamburg’s Runamics developing eco-friendly alternative to conventional sportswear
16 March 2021
Cradle to Cradle Concept

A tracksuit by the Hamburg-based startup Runamics tracksuit contains what every athlete at the Olympic Games covets namely gold.  The crowdfunded combination of hoodie and tracksuit pants are produced according to cradle-to-cradle guidelines. Steffen Otten, joint founder of Runamics, stressed: "Everything from harvesting the organic cotton to sewing the garment is checked in detail and certified by the Hamburg-based EPEA GmbH.”  The enthusiastic runner is eyeing both eco-friendly, healthy sportswear and the environment. Conventional functional clothing is made of synthetic fibres that break when washed and release microplastic particles which end up in the ocean and on our plates. Otten realized quickly that microplastics are not the only problem in textile value creation and found a solution in the cradle-to-cradle concept coined by Professor Michael Braungart, founder of EPEA. 

Five pillars to platinum

The cradle-to-cradle concept is based on five pillars, said Otten: "First of all, there is recyclability. The product must be either biologically or technologically recyclable - either compostable or a new, equivalent product is created from parts of the 'old' product." The certification also requires the use of chemically safe materials, a purification of the water used, the use of renewable energy and compliance with social standards during production. The certification is awarded in Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

World's first cradle to cradle certified sports brand?

"Certification of this kind is long and costly for all those involved, but it's worth it," said Otten, who founded Runamics in 2020 with Henning Heide, a photographer and founder of the Hamburg-based running Tide Runners, and fashion designer Lena Rix. Lina Schlierkamp, a student, is also on board the team, which is impact rather than profit-orientated.

Otten, a business economist, inputs his experience as a management consult. "There was something missing - apart from maximum and profits and growth. Now I can achieve that. I want to convince as many athletes as possible to wear better clothes. Runamics is set to become the world's first cradle to cradle certified sports brand."


Runamics (left to right): Lina Schlierkamp, Henning Heide, Steffen Otten and Lena Rix
© Runamics
Team (left to right) Lina Schlierkamp, Henning Heide, Steffen Otten and Lena Rix

From Hamburg to the world

Other cradle to cradle certified products include a running shirt, shorts and a wristband for mobile phones. The startup is also offering other environment-friendly products that are being developed for certification. Otten plans to take stock in autumn. "We want to calculate how many athletes we could equip with environment-friendly clothing and thus replace plastic clothing." The clothes are produced in Verden in Lower Saxony and in Hamburg Stellingen. "Being located in a global city is very important to us. We are ambitious and are aiming for an international market." Thus Hamburg is an ideal gateway to the world.