In 2021 the COVID-19 pandemic was still the most prevalent and challenging topic for PUMA and our industry as a whole. The resurgence of the virus in major sourcing countries like Vietnam, China and Bangladesh disrupted freight routes and temporarily closed factories. Workers feared for their health as well as their income and the virus also threatened our PUMA colleagues in countries like India or South Africa, which were hit particularly hard.
We continued our strategy of partnering with our suppliers and customers and we reacted flexibly to shift orders while avoiding cancellations. We also supported our suppliers by increasing the reach of PUMA’s Forever Better Financing program.
In addition, we also made sure that the safety of all staff was prioritized by following strict hygiene standards. We ensured the health of factory workers was equally protected and that they continued to receive compensation when factories were closed.
In 2021 sustainability became increasingly important as a topic. As the world's leaders gathered for global conventions on biodiversity and climate change, they discussed important milestones for decarbonization and the protection of the environment.
Despite these efforts, greenhouse gas emissions and the pace of biodiversity loss continue to increase. Many of our employees, customers, consumers and business partners are eager to be part of the solution and ask for more sustainable product initiatives and ways to decouple consumption from emissions.
To respond to such concerns, we executed our 10FOR25 sustainability strategy, which is linked to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Highlights of this strategy include ensuring fair working conditions in all factories that produce PUMA goods, powering all PUMA entities globally with renewable energy, switching all major materials to more sustainable alternatives as well as building up our more sustainable product offering.
Our social compliance program remains the bedrock of our sustainability efforts and has been accredited by the Fair Labor Association since 2007. We purchase 99% of our cotton and leather as well as 80% of our polyester from accredited or certified sources, such as BCI, bluesign or the Leather Working Group.
To tackle the biodiversity loss, we introduced a biodiversity and forest protection policy and partnered with the NGO Canopy to ensure our sourcing of man-made cellulosic materials (such as viscose) as well as paper and carboard does not contribute to deforestation.
We expanded the usage of recycled polyester to 43%, in line with our target to have 75% recycled polyester in our apparel and accessories by 2025. We are also on track to remove plastic shopping bags from our stores in 2023 at the latest.
We continued to build our consumer-facing sustainability platform, “Forever Better”, and launched our Re:Gen collection, which is made from regenerated materials such as industry offcuts. We also presented the Exhale collection with Cara Delevingne, for which we offset carbon emissions from product manufacturing and transport. In our RE:Suede experiment, we will test whether we can make a biodegradable version of our most iconic sneaker, the PUMA Suede.
We ended the year with our first ever virtual stakeholder dialog meeting, discussing the important topics of Circularity and Climate Action where much remains to be done by PUMA and the entire apparel and footwear industry, to move from the current linear production model to more circular business models and to further reduce CO2 emissions from our supply chain.
There is only one Forever – Let’s make it Better.