LONDON — Puma aims to get serious about the future of the environment and has unveiled plans to reduce carbon emissions and waste, and its use of water and energy, by at least 25 percent by 2015.

On Tuesday, the activewear label launched a sustainability index standard, which it calls “S-Index,” that will act as a yardstick for the creation of sustainable Puma products. To achieve the standard, the products must meet criteria such as being made from natural fabrics, not using harmful substances in their production and using biodegradable packaging. The firm aims for 50 percent of the footwear, apparel and accessories it produces to be made according to the criteria set out in the index by 2015.

“We’re taking our commitment to the environment to the next level, and making this commitment an integral linchpin of our corporate strategy and brand positioning,” said Jochen Zeitz, Puma AG’s chairman and chief executive officer, at a press conference at London’s Design Museum.

“The world has changed,” added Zeitz. “Sustainability in business is no longer negotiable. We at Puma feel ultimately responsible to neutralize the paw print we leave on the planet as a company.”

Puma said it also plans to establish an external advisory board to consult on sustainability issues.

And as part of the pledge, the company has tapped industrial designer Yves Béhar to design an environmentally friendly shoebox, dubbed “Clever Little Bag,” which also launched Tuesday. Made from a sheet of cardboard folded within a recyclable polypropylene bag, Puma said the new packaging would reduce the company’s paper consumption by 65 percent. The packaging is slated to launch at the end of 2011.

“It’s clever because it uses just a single sheet of cardboard which is folded, and the bag on the outside creates the structure and holds everything in place. It allows you to stack the boxes on top of each other,” said Béhar. “You can also remove the little piece of cardboard at retail…and the same bag then replaces the plastic shopping bag,” he added.

While the new shoeboxes are made in China, Zeitz said they will eventually be manufactured in the same location as the shoes, which are made in factories in countries including Argentina and Brazil.

Zeitz said Puma’s engagement with the environment stretched back over a decade, when the firm began to improve its social, labor and environmental standards. In 1999, Puma introduced a program called Puma Safe, whose aims include monitoring the social and environmental credentials of its suppliers. Last year, the firm opened what it said is the industry’s first carbon neutral head office in Herzogenaurach, Germany.

And to further underscore its commitment to environmental issues, later this month Puma will take part in the United Nations’ summit “The Business for the Environment,” which will be held in Seoul April 22 and 23, where the company plans to make further sustainability announcements. Puma has also sponsored “Sustainable Futures,” an exhibition that opened last month at London’s Design Museum, which spotlights environmentally friendly architecture and design projects. The exhibition runs through Sept. 5.

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