German sportswear giant, Puma, is doubling down on circularity by launching a trial project to address the 'after life' of its products, starting with its iconic SUEDE sneaker.
As part of Puma's RE:SUEDE experiment, Puma has created an experimental version of its most iconic sneaker using more sustainable materials such as Zeology tanned suede, biodegradable TPE, and hemp fibers.
The pilot, which will begin in January 2022, will allow 500 selected participants in Germany to wear the RE:SUEDEs for six months in order to verify the endurance of a product made of biodegradable materials in real life before returning them to Puma. The sneakers will next be subjected to an industrial biodegradation process at Valor Compostering B.V., a family-owned waste management company in the Netherlands. The company will evaluate the biodegradable process and determine what research and development are required for the future of sustainable shoe consumption.
The RE:SUEDE experiment is the first circular program to be launched as part of PUMA's new "Circular Lab," a new innovation hub directed by PUMA's sustainability and design professionals who seek to build the company's circularity programs’ future.
Puma introduced their first "Cradle to Cradle Certified" collection of footwear, apparel, and accessories in 2012, which is completely biodegradable or recyclable. Due to low demand, the InCycle series was canceled three years later.
PUMA's innovation department worked to address the technological restrictions of the InCycle collection in order to apply such learnings to the RE:SUEDE experiment, according to the firm. When compared to previous biodegradable materials analyzed at PUMA, the usage of new, innovative materials such as Zeology suede, which is manufactured utilizing a more sustainable tanning method and provides higher comfort for the wearer, is one of the benefits. The RE:outsole SUEDE's has also been improved to ensure optimal wear.
Heiko Desens, Puma’s Creative Director said that their circular vision was audacious in 2012, but the technology wasn't quite there. Every obstacle, as they say, presents an opportunity, and they've continued to push themselves to perform better by utilizing their strengths while also recognizing and improving their flaws. They hope that the results of the RE:SUEDE experiment: 'No Time For Waste' will enable them to continue to raise the bar in circularity testing in the future, allowing their customers to make better fashion choices in the future, allowing their sneakers to go 'from Suede to Soil' without sacrificing product style or durability.
The company intends to share the findings and lessons learned from this experiment with the rest of the industry in order to have a greater influence on the problem of waste management in the footwear industry.
Pumas' Forever Better sustainability plan includes circularity as one of its cornerstones. By 2025, the firm wants to reduce waste by using 75% recycled polyester in its products, establishing product take-back programs in key countries, and introducing recycled leather, rubber, cotton, and polyurethane choices.
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