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Puma to begin testing biodegradable sneakers

By Rachel Douglass

4 Nov 2021

Business

Image: Puma

Sportswear giant Puma has begun experimenting with sustainable production methods centred around its signature Suede sneaker model.

Renamed the Re:Suede, the experimental version of the shoe implements a number of new technology methods into its design, including Zeology tanned suede, biodegradable thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) and hemp fibres.

The pilot sneaker is part of the label’s goal to meet the growing demand for sustainable products, further addressing the need for waste management in the footwear industry.

Set to launch in January 2022, the experimental shoe will be trialled and tested by 500 participants based in Germany, Each recipient will be asked to wear the Re:Suede for six months, testing the durability of the product before the style is taken back to move on to the next step in the experiment.

Part of the process will see the design go through an industrial biodegradation process in partnership with the Ortessa Groep. The Netherlands based waste specialists will help to determine if grade A compost from the shoe can be managed in an agricultural setting. Results will be used to determine the future of Puma’s sustainable shoe consumption.

The experiment was launched under the label’s newly developed ‘Circular Lab’ programme, created to develop innovative circularity initiatives.

Puma has previously attempted sustainable shoe endeavours in the past, with a biodegradable sneaker unveiled in 2012 as part of its InCycle collection. Low demand and a need for further research saw the shoe discontinued, with the label emphasising the technological limitations faced at the time.

For its new experimental trials, the sports company has stated it will share the final results and insights gained from the programme to benefit and empower others in the footwear industry.