The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA) recently launched the new shoe sustainability guide that focuses on one essential area of shoe manufacturing — environmentally preferred materials (EPMs) — to provide industry leaders with benchmarks and goals to help them reduce their companies' environmental impacts.
The guide was developed in collaboration with sourcing and sustainability specialists from companies like Caleres, Allbirds, Nike, and Material Exchange.
Andy Polk, SVP at FDRA, said that the guide is meant to be a reference for the industry and help end the decision and strategy paralysis certain shoe companies have around sustainability and get them moving in a positive direction.
Polk added that as more manufacturers adopt and implement the guide, they will see a real return on investment as the cost of developing sustainable materials decreases and they have better, more value-add materials in footwear for consumers. This is just the beginning of their efforts to bring companies together to maximize impact.
To put it another way, shoe firms can save money and have a greater impact by working together to achieve sustainability goals.
The FDRA will update the guide to include new materials innovations, Life Cycle Assessments, and progress throughout the industry. It also pushes businesses to assess their progress against current criteria and take immediate action to push their products beyond them.
Along with baseline EPMs — for example, a minimum of Leather Working Group Bronze Level certification for leathers — the guide defines Green North Star EPMs — Gold Level certification in this case — as targets for businesses to seek.
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