Puma, the well renowned German sportswear company, recently announced the launch of a range of biodegradable shoes and clothes.
The company has continually been praised in various reports by the United Nations as being a corporate leader in the development of sustainability, and making a real effort to limit environmental damage. We’ve covered a couple of Puma’s notably green efforts, as well.
Puma also announced at the press conference unveiling this new line that it will be widening its “accounting for the costs of its air pollution, greenhouse gases, waste, land and water use.”
“We want to contribute to a better world. At the same time, we also want to carve out our competitive advantage,” the company stated.
The new biodegradable collection will be on the market in 2013. The line of 22 products will include biodegradable shoes and shirts as well as completely recyclable plastic track jackets and backpacks. After the consumer has decided to throw away the product, it can simply be returned to stores for re-processing.
“The sole of the sneaker, for instance, would be made of biodegradable plastic and the upper of organic cotton and linen. After going through a shredder, it could become compost in six to nine months.”
Koch made sure to stress that “biodegradable” doesn’t mean a lack of durability. “You can’t just dispose of it in the garden at home, dig a hole and hope that a tree is going to come out,” he said.
Puma has also begun to rate the individual environmental impacts of specific products. Helping to specify where the $188 million that they caused in damage to nature in 2010 occurred (according to a 2010 study).
“A new biodegradable T-shirt, for instance, 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 idea is to allow consumers to be more aware of the environmental impact they have and to potentially guide them to “less damaging options.” To clarify, though, Puma does not add the environmental cost to its sales price.
“In the long run I think all of this should be standardized, just like we are used to seeing calories on our food products,” Jochen Zeitz, chairman of Puma, told Reuters.
The company also highlighted “that 100,000 pairs of biodegradable sneakers, for instance, would fill 12 trucks of waste during production and disposal against 31 trucks-worth for the same number of normal Puma suede shoes.”
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.”
The leader of the UN’s Green Economy Initiative from 2008 to 2011, Pavan Sukhdev, regularly mentioned Puma as a leader in sustainability, and that it has done “a great job in transparency, measurement and disclosure” of the environmental costs of its business.
Currently, according to Sukhdev, the only companies that have created ways to estimate the damage they cause to the environment are those “whose turnover makes up less than five percent of the world economy.”
For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts; for all is vanity. - Ecclesiastes 3:19