Puma relies on biodegradable innovation with Re:Suede

In 2021, the Puma company started its first project called Re:Suede with its Circular Lab. The experiment about the completely biodegradable shoe is now producing results.

RESUEDE shoe
Source & Copyright: Puma

Author: House of Eden

  • Since 2021, Puma's Circular Lab has been focusing on a biodegradable shoe called Re:Suede
  • The shoe uses biodegradable materials such as bast fiber and a hemp-cotton mixture
  • The Re:Suede shoes show promising results in the composting process, but the condition of the sole still requires fine-tuning

Increasing social expectations and precarious environmental conditions are increasingly forcing large companies to take action. Puma is no exception and is intensifying its efforts, for example with recycling in production processes. But since 2021, Puma's Circular Lab has been dedicated to a new project with a focus on developing biodegradable products. The first model: the Re:Suede shoe.

Re:Suede is made from compostable materials

For this shoe production, close attention was paid to compostable materials: the padding, insoles and laces are made of bast fiber. The lining and sole are made from 55 percent hemp and 45 percent cotton. The outsole is made of biodegradable thermoplastic elastomer, while the suede upper has been dyed responsibly, according to Puma.

From everyday use to compostable recycling

Before the shoes were sent for composting, volunteers first used them in everyday life. In May 2022, 500 participants were sent models of the Re:Suede shoe from Puma's Circular Lab. They sent these back to Puma after a few weeks. Between March and June 2023, 412 of these shoes were sent to Valor Composting to undergo a special composting process called Tunnel Composting. The shoes were shredded, mixed with other organic waste and treated with bacteria. They were then placed in a moist and warm tunnel to compost.

Re:Suede shoes show promising results in the composting process

Puma's experiment was successful on many levels: After a period of 3,5 months, the Re:Suede shoes largely disintegrated into such small individual parts that, with a size of less than 10 mm, they were classified as so-called A compost. This type of compost can be used in agriculture, for example. The sole material also showed clear signs of decomposition, according to Dutch composting expert Ortessa. However, it takes more time, estimated up to 6 months, to completely decompose in the composting facilities. This delay not only affects the composting process, but would also require multiple cycles, which goes against common standards for industrial composting: so fine-tuning is still required.

But Anne-Laure Descours, Chief Sourcing Officer at Puma, remains optimistic: “We will continue to innovate with our partners to determine the infrastructure and technologies needed to make the process viable for a commercial version of the RE:SUEDE, including a takeback scheme, in 2024.”

Puma doesn't keep its first successes to itself

The otherwise competitive company makes almost all information about their experiment available. The reason: Puma states that it not only wants to make money through this innovation, but also wants to further advance the fashion industry and other stakeholders with its results. Puma is leading the way: the transition to sustainable transformations can be better managed in a community. Only if everyone works together for a more sustainable world can our earth be protected and saved in the long term.

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