Puma Again: Launching biodegradable shoes and apparel.

11 10 2012

The amazing German footwear and apparel manufacturer Puma is at it again.  This week they announced the launch of a new line of biodegradable shoes, shirts, backpacks and recyclable track jackets.  The products will be available for sale in 2013.  This adds to Puma’s track record of sustainability leadership that has led to it being named “the world’s most sustainable corporation” by EIRIS and has drawn praise as a corporate leader in environmental responsibility by the United Nations.

In an interview with Reuters, chief executive Franz Koch said, “We have decided that sustainability is a mega-trend.  We want to contribute to a better world. At the same time, we also want to carve out our competitive advantage.”

The new collection, going on sale in 2013, includes biodegradable sneakers and shirts and recyclable plastic track jackets and backpacks. At the end of their useful life, the products can be returned to stores for processing.

The sole of the new sneaker is made of biodegradable plastic and the upper of organic cotton and linen. After being shredded, it could become compost in six to nine months.  Puma has demonstrated that 100,000 pairs of biodegradable sneakers would fill 12 trucks of waste during production and disposal against 31 trucks-worth for the same number of normal Puma suede shoes.

A new biodegradable T-shirt would have environmental costs of 2.36 euros in terms of greenhouse gases, water, waste, air pollution, and land use associated with its production, compared to 3.42 euros for a conventional T-shirt.

The company also said it was starting to rate the environmental impact of individual products, narrowing the focus from a study last year that estimated the entire company caused 145 million euros in damage to nature in 2010.

In another interview with Reuters, Jochen Zeitz, chairman of Puma said, “In the long run I think all of this should be standardised, just like we are used to seeing calories on our food products.” , told Reuters. Zeitz conceded that “a lot of people call it a risk” to mention pollution when trying to sell a product. “I think it’s a risk not to talk about it,” he said. “It’s our opportunity as businesses to be transparent.”

In 2010, Puma and Yves Behar of Fuse Project, a global leader in design, announced the launch of its Clever Little Bag, reinventing the typical cardboard shoe box with a much more environmentally responsible package design.  You can see the design and appreciate its reduction in environmental impacts here.

Read the Reuters article here.

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