Sportlifestyle company PUMA will be launching a collection of shoes, apparel and accessories that are either biodegradable or recyclable when consumers return them to PUMA’s Bring Me Back Program at the end of their lifecycles. With the PUMA InCycle Collection, coming into stores in Spring/Summer 2013, PUMA takes a first step in addressing the environmental footprint of its consumers’ disposal, helping them to reduce their personal waste generation.
“While we have already implemented numerous initiatives to reduce PUMA’s footprint in our mission to become the most desirable and sustainable Sportlifestyle company, the PUMA InCycle collection is the first step to help reduce the amounts of garbage that consumer products cause at the end of their lives,” said Franz Koch, CEO of PUMA. “We feel that we are responsible for the environmental impact our products cause and this innovative concept in sustainability is a first step towards our long-term vision of using innovative materials and design concepts for PUMA products that can be recycled in technical processes or composted in biological cycles.”
PUMA is taking on the challenge of launching an entire line that is either biodegradable or recyclable and 100% Cradle-to-Cradle Basic CertifiedCM. The PUMA InCycle collection includes among numerous others the lifestyle sneaker basket (biodegradable), the legendary PUMA Track Jacket (recyclable), shirts (biodegradable) and a backpack (recyclable).
After PUMA’s 2010 Environmental Profit and Loss Account (E P&L) revealed that 57% of PUMA’s environmental impacts are associated with the production of raw materials such as leather, cotton and rubber, the company aimed at increasing the number of products made of more sustainable materials. So only clever raw materials have been used to manufacture this collection: PUMA InCycle uses among others biodegradable polymers, recycled polyester and organic cotton in order to eliminate pesticides, chemical fertilizers and other hazardous chemicals.
PUMA simultaneously launched its new Product E P&L that analyzed and assessed the environmental impacts of two PUMA InCycle products with two conventional PUMA products. The analysis brought to light that the PUMA InCycle Basket and a PUMA InCycle shirt impact the environment 31% less than a conventional product. Furthermore, it revealed that it takes 31 trucks with a load capacity of 13,000 kg to clear the waste that 100,000 pairs of conventional PUMA Suede sneakers cause during the production process and consumer life until they end up on landfills or in incinerators. In comparison, 12 trucks are needed to clear the waste that 100,000 pairs of biodegradable PUMA InCycle Baskets cause until they end up in an industrial composting facility system.
The Recyclable InCycle Products
Recycling means that used materials – which normally end up in conventional disposal such as landfills and incineration plants – will be processed into new materials. Alternative waste disposal, such as recycling uses less energy compared to raw material manufacturing, reduces air pollution from waste incineration and land use from landfilling. Recycling requires energy as well, but far less on average than raw material creation. A precondition for products to be recyclable is that the materials within the product are not blended with other materials. This homogeneity is necessary because mixed or composite materials constrain separation during the recycling process and pure recycled materials cannot be obtained. PUMA’s recyclable InCycle products, such as the PUMA Track Jacket and the Backpack, have been created just using homogenous materials to ensure they are fully recyclable at the end of their lifecycles.
The recyclable PUMA Track Jacket, for example, is 98% made of recycled polyester deriving from used PET bottles while the conventional PUMA Track Jacket contains additional materials, such as elastane. To fully ensure the homogeneity of materials, the recyclable jacket’s zipper was made of recycled polyester as well. The InCycle PUMA Track Jacket, once it has been returned by the consumer and collected through PUMA’s Bring Me Back program, can be turned back into polyester granulate which then serves as a secondary raw material for other products made of recycled polyester, reducing the need for crude oil, energy and the amount of waste created.
The PUMA Backpack is made of polypropylene and will be returned to the original manufacturer in China after collection, who will then produce new backpacks from the recycled polypropylene.
Recycling requires that the consumer understands the concept and how their individual behaviour can help to support the process. Likewise PUMA is doing its share by disposing of all collected products responsibly.
A precondition for products to be biodegradable is that they must be only made of biodegradable materials including organic fibers without any toxic chemicals and have to follow certain international standards for composting. This ensures that already the sourcing and manufacturing process of biodegradable PUMA products creates the least environmental impact possible. The upper of PUMA’s biodegradable lifestyle sneaker “Basket” is made of a mix of organic cotton and linen while the sole is composed of the biodegradable plastic APINATbio©, a new material innovation, which is biodegradable when disposed correctly. When collected through PUMA’s Bring Me Back Program, shredded and transported to an industrial composting facility system, the materials of the Basket compost into natural humus and become part of the ecosystem again.
All products of the PUMA InCycle collection are Cradle-to-Cradle Basic CertifiedCM, being the first collection of footwear, apparel and accessories to carry this certification. The aim of the Cradle-to-Cradle® design concept is to have an improved consumer quality for the user, pose no health risk for anyone who comes into contact with them and deliver both economic and ecological benefits.
“It is such a great accomplishment to see PUMA taking the initiative, and leading their company towards developing products that generate a beneficial footprint,” said Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart, Founder of EPEA Internationale Umweltforschung GmbH. “Their line of sports and lifestyle products are truly designed based on the Cradle to Cradle® design principles. Their new collection, along with their cooperation with I:CO and their Bring Me Back system, put them at the forefront of holistic beauty, innovation, and quality.”
The PUMA InCycle collection will be available in PUMA Stores worldwide in February 2013.