We are aware that the linear business model currently applied in our industry is far from the ideal concept of a circular economy. The growing amount of textile waste sent to landfills is an emerging risk. Rethinking the way we produce and moving towards a more circular business model is one of the priorities of our sustainability strategy.
We begin our journey with product design. Building on our Circular Design training with Circular Economy, we rolled out an e-learning tool on circularity for the global PUMA colleagues. Based on the PUMA identity and our material toolboxes we identified circular design approaches around the longevity and cyclability of our products. The e-learning is covering our Circularity Policy, as well as our circular design guidelines.
In 2021 we launched our PUMA Circular Lab, our platform to speak and learn about circularity together with our customers. The first project was the RE:SUEDE, an experiment for a biodegradable shoe, made with chrome-free Zeology Leather, hemp, cotton and a biodegradable TPE sole. It launched in 2022 with a first batch of 500 pairs. The shoes were worn for six months by participants and then sent back to PUMA. In December 2022 over 400 pairs of RE:SUEDEs were sent to an industrial composting facility in the Netherlands, where they were prepared for the composting trial happening in 2023. The composting results will be made public so that anyone interested in biodegradability can use our lessons learnt.
In apparel we developed a textile-to-textile recycling opportunity with partners in Europe called RE: JERSEY. The initiative enables the recycling of worn or unsellable polyester items (for example due to expired licensing contracts) through an innovative chemical recycling process into new textile items. We partnered with several PUMA teams for this project: Manchester United, AC Milan, Olympique de Marseille and Borussia Dortmund. We collect polyester products at the clubs’ fan shops and our own PUMA Store in Herzogenaurach. These products are sorted, recycled, and turned into new football jerseys in Europe.
We encourage all our suppliers to reuse and recycle the fabric waste they are creating for PUMA production, either through applications outside of our industry or ideally, by recycling offcuts into new polyester or cotton yarns.
We have set circularity targets, for example, scaling up the use of recycled polyester and cotton and using recycled alternatives to leather, rubber and polyurethane (PU), the materials we use most frequently after cotton and polyester. Our material toolboxes include recycled material options for all these materials. For recycling and recycled thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), we have started a research project with a chemical company.
To communicate our use of recycled materials in our products, we launched our RE:COLLECTION in 2022. The collection is made with recycled cotton and recycled polyester. In parallel, we continued our First Mile collection made from recycled plastic bottles.
The percentage of recycled polyester increased for all product divisions from 14% in 2020 to 48% in 2022. The percentage of recycled cotton for our apparel products increased from 0.6% in 2020 to 3.6% in 2022, and for footwear it increased from 0.5% to 2.4%.
Around 57% of pre-consumer waste was either reused or recycled by our core Tier 1 suppliers and around 90% of waste was either reused or recycled by our core Tier 2 suppliers in 2022. 9% of textile and fabric waste was sent for incineration by core Tier 1 factories while core Tier 2 factories sent only 0.3% of waste for incineration.
Only 4.6% of manufacturing waste still ends up in landfills for apparel suppliers and 9.2% for footwear suppliers.
|Volume of recycled cotton, from production waste||1,335 tons|
|Volume of recycled polyester, from post & pre-consumer waste||24,509 tons|
|Volume of recycled nylon, from post-consumer waste||15 tons|
|Core T1*||Core T2**|
|Quantity of pre-consumer waste generated annually||51,165 tons||216,796 tons|
|% of pre-consumer waste sent to reuse or recycling||56.9%||90.6%|
|% of textiles and fabric destroyed (sent to incineration)||9.2%||0.3%|
To demonstrate our responsibility as a producer and to secure options for more circular material streams in the future, we have set a target to join or offer takeback schemes in all our major markets by 2025.
During 2022 we introduced our footwear takeback scheme for Australia, complementing our existing takeback pilot schemes in Hong Kong, USA and the participant clubs of the RE:Fiber project. Our colleagues at PUMA North America continued to work with Soles for Souls and collected 600 kg of used shoes, an initiative where shoes can be donated for reuse in support of a charitable cause. Our colleagues in Australia were able to collect 2,749 kg of used products.
Since September 2019 PUMA customers in Hong Kong have the possibility to put their used sportswear to good use and support disadvantaged communities across the world, as we teamed up with the non-profit organization, Crossroads Foundation. Hong Kong customers can donate used garments of all brands at PUMA recycling bins, which have been set up in four selected stores. For every bag of clothing that is donated, customers receive a 20% discount voucher for their next purchase. 130 kg and 104 kg of garments were donated to the Cross Foundation in 2020 and 2021, respectively. In 2022 we delivered 264.5 kg of used garments.
In addition, our German takeback partner Soex/I:CO has received over 3,303 kg of textiles for recycling from PUMA and was able to recycle 2,860 kg of this amount, while the rest had to be incinerated with energy recovery.
SWOP shops are a free and local exchange where people can pass on things they no longer want, in exchange for something they need. It helps renewing a wardrobe without having to shop for something new. Products get a new chance to be worn again and it promotes sustainability in a fun way. In 2022 the third PUMA SWOP Shop was held in Hong Kong during a 5-day event to promote a “recycle and reuse” culture. It was a public event to swap clothes and accessories. More than 1,200 guests joined and more than 3,200 items were given (more than 2 items per guest). 55 boxes of garments were donated to two NGOs: Crossroads and Redress. Another SWOP Shop took place for the first time in our Headquarters in Germany for our own employees. 0ver 500 items were swapped and the remaining ones were donated to our employees’ charity organization, Charity Cat.
We are aware that given contractual restrictions, a certain number of unsold products must be occasionally discarded, for example when a license contract with a partner club expires. We have a process in place to ensure that this happens to PUMA products only in exceptional circumstances. Our production forecasts are as accurate as possible to actively prevent high product inventories and their intrinsic management costs. Unsold seasonal products will be placed through different channels until they are sold. Returned products which have not been worn will be placed on sale again. Returned products with small defects but in good condition are donated and only returned products which are very worn or severely damaged need to be discarded. No new products should be destroyed without the explicit demand of an expiring licensing partner and not as a solution for inventory management. We have created a reporting structure to identify with accuracy the quantity and reasons for such cases. In 2022, about 0.06% of the total number of articles produced in 2022 had to be discarded (globally). These products were sent to a recycling facility (where available) and in the countries where such recycling facilities do not exist, the products were shredded.
In 2022 PUMA Turkey opened an upcycling pop-up store, giving unwanted clothes another life and turning them into new garments with a new value, to tackle the problem that thousands of defective products otherwise would have gone to waste. To sell the items, the team opened a pop-up store at the Kanyon Mall in Istanbul to sell 3,000 items that were upcycled in collaboration with fashion designer, Custom Rebels. Following the positive reception of the pop-up store, a permanent shop was opened in Karaköy, one of the most popular districts in Istanbul.
In 2021 we developed a waste reduction roadmap and conducted a risk assessment.
The waste data published in our report not only includes material waste, they also include factory and office operation waste: cardboard, paper, plastic, light bulbs, etc. to ensure a comprehensive scope covered for the waste generated on production sites. We see plastics, chemicals, oil lubricant waste and e-waste as high risk. To prioritize these risks, we engaged with other brands and INSEE (a cement company that offers waste treatment services using co-processing technology in Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Indonesia). To prioritize our actions, we analyzed waste data collected in 2020 and the Higg FEM waste management score of our core factories.
Below are key focus areas for the coming years. Some actions were taken in 2021 and are reported below.
Tong Hong Tannery is one of the largest split leather producers in the world with production bases in Vietnam, China & Indonesia. In Vietnam the factory has received a Leather Working Group (LWG) Gold Medal and been ISO 14001:2015-certified for its environmental management system. Their most recent and significant action toward sustainability is the establishment of a waste conversion plant in 2020 within the factory premises. The project when implemented at scale is expected to enable 100% recycling of split leather waste, which accounts for 60% of raw material input which is otherwise being end up totally in landfill. While 20% of this waste will be sent out for recycled split leather/suede products, the conversion plant is expected to recycle 80% of waste into gelatin. The latter then will be sent to another party as input material for adhesive production.