“Making an impact at scale” encapsulates PUMA’s mission-driven sustainability strategy – and the global sports brand advances its efforts through a top-down approach that ingrains ecological purpose into its products.
For PUMA, purveyor of footwear, apparel, and accessories, sustainability is a pre-requisite to its undertakings. With a slew of ambitious goals and targets in the segment, the brand’s position on greening its footprint is based on its undertaking to reduce its overall environmental impact, water consumption, and CO2 emissions.
Setting targets across 10 areas of focus, inclusive of human rights; chemicals; product; climate change; health and safety; water and air; biodiversity; plastic and the oceans; circularity; and fair income, PUMA’s approach to sustainability in the footwear market is distinguished by its inclusivity.
Aptly referred to as its 10FOR25 targets, PUMA is focused on working toward those ambitious targets until 2025. And in the coming years, the brand has plans to emphasize circularity and climate action, most recently with its garment-to-garment recycling initiative, RE:JERSEY, in tandem with its strong effort to introduce renewable energy to its core suppliers.
Stefan Seidel, the Senior Head of Corporate Sustainability at PUMA, told FN that its approach “has been, and will be, to improve the sustainability performance across all our styles, including footwear, apparel, and accessories. As part of our Forever Better sustainability platform and sustainability strategy, we have set ourselves a target to make nine out of 10 products from more sustainable materials by 2025. We are well on our way to hit that target.”
Seidel said that for its footwear, PUMA uses 99 percent leather from tanneries that are certified by the Leather Working Group, with most of them holding a coveted Gold-rated certification. And its use of recycled polyester has increased dramatically over the past few years, in alignment with its target to use 75 percent recycled polyester by 2025.
But the brand also makes headway in research and development through the creation of its own sustainable materials: In addition to including recycled rubber and leather materials in several of its sustainability focused collections, PUMA developed an EVA foam with biobased content made from sugar cane.
Several of its sustainably made standout products seen across its collections are striking, to say the least. Seidel noted that PUMA’s sustainable footwear initiatives include RE:SUEDE, a sneaker that incorporates a range of materials such as Zeology tanned suede, biodegradable TPE and hemp fibers, as well as its footwear made with recycled plastic bottles from First Mile, an initiative that also supports the collectors of those plastic bottles, and helps avoid plastic pollution.
Its initiatives are supported by a number of vegan styles, Seidel added, such as its recently announced KING Platinum 21 Vegan football boot and the sneakers in its RE.Gen collection, which contain recycled input materials.
As a mainstay in the sports space, PUMA observed that the sustainability market has indeed evolved of late, and that footwear consumers are profoundly prioritizing – and challenging – brands’ established practices and processes.
“While we believe that our consumers still buy for style and performance, we can also clearly see an increased interest in more sustainable footwear styles, as well as vegan alternatives to leather,” Seidel explained.
“Consumers still want great looking and performing footwear, but increasingly they are also asking for the sustainability credentials of their favorable styles. A small but growing number of consumers are also interested in vegan styles or purchase targeted on sustainability performance.”
Positioned for Progress
Admirably so, PUMA’s approach is to be Forever Better – the idea that it continuously strives for constant improvements. Seidel noted that there “are a few milestones on our sustainability journey that stand out, such as the launch of our first sustainability report in 2003 or the first Environmental Profit and Loss Account in 2011 and more recently, the move
to 100 percent renewable electricity for all our owned and operated entities
globally in 2020.”
However, most important for PUMA is the progress it has made with its suppliers, where Seidel said the brand has seen “clear improvements in working conditions and environmental performance over the last decade.”
The brand’s path forward includes work on its initiative within its Circular Lab, a product take-back scheme, and adaptation of its climate targets to do its part in helping limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.
“We want to cut carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement right across our value chain, from our own offices, vehicle fleet and stores to our supplier factories, Seidel told FN, adding that “PUMA is a founding member and has played a leading role in the United Nation’s Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action – and it is our hope that this will help reduce emissions throughout the industry.”