German sportswear manufacturer Puma has developed an experimental version of one of its most iconic sneakers, the SUEDE, and has begun testing it to make it biodegradable. The company is aiming to meet the growing demand for sustainable products.
Just Style reports that the experimental sneaker, the RE:SUEDE, uses state-of-the-art technology, and will be made from sustainable materials such as Zeology tanned suede, biodegradable TPE (thermoplastic rubber or elastomer), and help fibres.
Designed to help address the challenge of waste management in the footwear industry, the RE:SUEDE experiment will allow Puma to take more responsibility when it comes to tackling the ‘after life’ of its products.
The pilot will launch in January 2022 and will offer 500 selected participants in Germany the chance to join Puma on its experimental journey towards circularity.
The participants will wear their RE:SUEDE sneakers for six months to determine the durability of a product using biodegradable materials in real-world testing, before being sent back to Puma via a take-back infrastructure that has been designed to move the sneakers to the next step in the experiment.
The shoes will then be subjected to an industrial biodegradation process in a controlled environment at Valor Compostering B.V., owned by Ortessa Groep B.V., a family-run business of waste specialists in the Netherlands.
This next step aims to determine if Grade A compost can be produced for agricultural use, and the findings from the experiment will assist Puma in assessing the biodegradable process, and help focus research and development for the future of sustainable shoe production and consumption.
The RE:SUEDE experiment is the first circular programme to launch under Puma’s ‘Circular Lab’, which is a new innovation hub led by Puma’s sustainability and design experts, who work to develop the future of the company’s circularity programmes.
Puma’s innovation department has been working towards addressing the technological limitations of the InCycle collection, Puma’s first attempt to create a biodegradable sneaker, since 2012, in order to apply lessons learned to the RE:SUEDE experiment.
Improvements made by the innovation team include the use of new and innovative materials such as Zeology suede, which is produced using a more sustainable tanning process and ensures improved comfort for the wearer, compared to other biodegradable materials tested by Puma.
The outsole of the RE:SUEDE has also been improved to ensure optimal wear.
The sportswear firm aims to release the results and insights gained from the experiment within the industry to achieve an even bigger impact when it comes to addressing the challenges of waste management in the footwear industry.
Circularity is one of the pillars of Puma’s FOREVER BETTER sustainability strategy, and by 2025, the company aims to reduce waste by increasing the level of recycled polyester in its products to 75 per cent, setting up product take-back schemes in its major markets and developing recycled material options for leather, rubber, cotton and polyurethane.
Since its first iteration in 1968, the Puma SUEDE has been at the forefront of cultural turning points, transcending style and trends. With the RE:SUEDE, Puma wants to give its consumers a stylish and more sustainable choice, while showcasing the latest technologies.
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