On Nov. 30, Puma will be honored with the Sustainability Leadership Award at the 36th annual FN Achievement Awards. Below is an article from the magazine’s Nov. 28 print issue about the company’s outstanding achievements in this realm.
For Puma, sustainability is more than a box to check off. The German athletic company is working to implement sustainable practices throughout its entire product creation ecosystem, from sourcing to manufacturing.
As part of its 10for25 sustainability strategy, Puma publicly outlined a series of goals it’s targeting for the year 2025. The plan involves working toward renewable energy alternatives, using more sustainable materials and offering more sustainable products to consumers.
Stefan Seidel, Puma’s head of corporate sustainability, recently spoke to FN while en route to the United Nations’ Sharm el-Sheikh Climate Change Conference to speak on behalf of Puma and the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, which he helped launch in 2018.
“It was always my dream to lead the sustainability efforts of a large corporation and be able to contribute a little bit to make the world a better place,” Seidel said. “[Our] targets are very ambitious, and we realized we can’t achieve those targets alone and in isolation.”
Here are three ways Puma has stood out when it comes to keeping its business sustainable.
Leadership in the industry
In addition to Puma’s presence at events like the UN’s Climate Change Conference, the company is constantly trying to work together with other brands and corporations toward a common goal of limiting their impact on the environment.
In September, more than 200 sustainability activists, experts, ambassadors, consumers and brand employees gathered for Puma’s “Conference of the People” initiative.
This event sought to address sustainability challenges within the fashion industry. The goal of the conference was to address solutions regarding the challenge of sustainability within the fashion world, with a specific focus on waste and product afterlife. The conversation was tailored to address a global Gen-Z audience.
“We can only reach our ambitious targets — be it greenhouse gas reductions or others — if we work in collaboration with our major industry peers,” Seidel said.
Experimentation and Innovation
New ideas drive the bottom line for Puma’s sustainable goals. In 2022, Puma tested a sustainable version of its Suede Classic sneaker, made with materials such as Zeology chrome-free tanned suede, biodegradable TPE and hemp fibers.
To test the shoe’s biodegradability, Puma distributed pairs of its experimental Re:Suede sneaker to 500 participants, including Puma ambassador, model and actress Cara Delevingne and soccer star Raphaël Varane. After half a year, Puma said it would collect the shoes and send them to industrial composting experts to analyze if they can biodegrade in a controlled setting.
The company also launched its Re:Jersey program in 2022, which focuses on repurposing old football jerseys into new ones. These products are made from 75% recycled football jerseys and were worn by Manchester City football players in April.
According to its latest sustainability report, Puma expanded its usage of recycled polyester to 43% in 2021 and is on track to meet its goal to have 75% recycled polyester in apparel and accessories by 2025.
The company also said that as of last year, over 99% of its cotton and almost all of its apparel polyester and footwear leather came from sustainable sources. In 2021, it launched a material called Better Foam, which is partly made from sugarcane and is used in the midsole of some of its footwear products.
With a goal for sustainable materials in mind, Puma has been rolling out a series of collections focused on eco-friendly products. In addition to using sustainable materials, these collections also publicly affirm the company’s commitments and allow consumers to purchase products that align with their values concerning the environment.
In February, the athletic brand unveiled the Puma King, a football boot made entirely from animal-free materials. And the company continues to grow its eco-friendly Exhale collection with Delevingne. The yoga-wear collection, which launched in 2021, utilizes recycled polyester and natural dyes and offsets its carbon emissions resulting from manufacturing and transportation.
In an interview earlier this year with FN, Delevingne said about Puma: “I don’t know how or what it is to be 100% sustainable, especially when you’re a major brand and moving things around — you can’t move it as fast as people would like it to be. But I have never worked with a brand as big in scale as Puma that has gone to such great lengths to make things as sustainable as possible.”
For 36 years, the annual FN Achievement Awards — often called the “Shoe Oscars” — have celebrated the style stars, best brand stories, ardent philanthropists, emerging talents and industry veterans. The 2022 event is supported by presenting sponsor Nordstrom, as well as Caleres, FDRA, Merrell, Vibram and Volumental.