Puma has been making some serious changes to its sustainability initiatives and has come out the front-runner in many areas. The company recently told Greenpeace that it would phase out all hazardous chemicals from its supply chain by 2020. Earlier this year, it was the first company to put a financial value on environmental impact.
Last year the company launched its Clever Little Bag, a reusable bag to replace shoeboxes made from 65 percent less paper and energy. Now it wants to lead the way in materials technology and tackle what happens to their goods once people no longer want to use them.
Unlike Patagonia which encourages its customers to buy less, Puma wants its clothes to be compostable. By closing the loop, the company hopes to reduce its impact and is confident that compostable clothes and sneakers will be the future. The company is also focusing on products that can be easily recyclable. The Guardian reports that Puma CEO, Franz Koch, explained that the company is working with its partners to develop products with a ‘cradle-to-cradle’ design. He elaborates that:
“It follows two circuits, the technical and the biological: I can use old shoes to make new ones or something completely different, such as car tires. In the biological cycle, I can make shoes and shirts that are compostable so I can shred them and bury them in the back garden. We are working on products that meet these two criteria.”
Compostable clothing may be something out of the future, but if you closely follow industry news, it is not that bizarre. German fashion designer and microbiologist Anke Domaske experimented with milk to produce a skin-friendly, compostable fabric. She now has a Hanover-based company called Qmilch. A Japanese microbiologist has come up with a Spud Coat, a raincoat made of bioplastic derived from potato starch – it is 100 percent biodegradable and compostable. It even comes with a seed-bomb integrated into its fabric that will sprout a vegetable garden once the coat breaks down. At Miami Swim Week this year, Linda Loudermilk debuted a completely compostable swimsuit made from plant starch.
Compostable clothing certainly is an innovative idea and one, if promoted by a major brand, that could soon become mainstream. Reusing and reducing are still the most important ideals in the sustainability trinity but as recycling is the third, it cannot be ignored. Although Koch did not specify when the company would launch these products, it is obvious from his statements that they could be ready for release in the near future. It would be interesting to see how the fabric tests out against athletic activity and also how compostable it will be for amateur gardeners. Imagine fertilizing your garden with athletic apparel? Welcome to the future!