Recycling vs. composting. What makes sustainable sense for the fashion industry?

It’s no news that our ‘throwaway’ consumer lifestyles lead to billions of tonnes of clothes and shoes being dumped yearly. Most of this ends up in landfills or exported to poorer countries, where it pollutes land and water there—a practice known as waste colonialism. Speaking at COP 28, Neesha-Ann Longdon of the OR Foundation explained that, of the 15 million garments arriving at Ghana’s Kantamanto second-hand market each week, ‘around 40% is waste that cannot be repaired, upcycled or sold’.

In Forbes’ article ‘Mass Recycling Of Fashion Is Years Away; Is Composting An Alternative?‘ , Brooke Roberts-Islam, dives into the possibilities of composting as a (more) sustainable option to recycling.

Read the full article

PUMA’s experiment with Zeology Suede

For this article the author dug into PUMA’s compostability experiment with the RE:SUEDE’s. This experiment was a collaboration with Dutch industrial composting company Ortessa and PUMA. Nera also collaborated by providing the material for the shoe upper, made from Zeology Suede.

The testing at Ortessa demonstrated that Zeology Suede tanning chemistry offered safe biodegradability, and this finding had triggered surge in interest from the wider industry.

These worn RE:SUEDE’s went back to Ortessa for compostability testing.

Since its introduction in 2020, Zeology leather has experienced widespread acceptance within the automotive industry. Due to its exceptional performance, it perfectly aligns with the demands of the footwear industry, exemplified by its application in crafting white sport shoes. Partnering with PUMA, a like-minded company for developing circular products that contribute to a more sustainable future, has been instrumental. The success of the RE:SUEDE project has underscored Zeology leather significance in manufacturing environmentally conscious materials, in this case compostable leather shoes. We firmly believe that initiatives such as these will further raise awareness about the potential of eco-designed leather fashion. Anticipating future collaborations, we are eager to contribute further to the evolution of sustainable practices in the footwear industry.’

Pim Wilgenburg
Venture Manager Nera

Read more about this experiment:

Wear, return, compost: our journey of the PUMA RE:SUEDE experiment

We are excited to share that one of the participants is our colleague Florian Schrey, Account Director Brands & OEM’s at Royal Smit & Zoon.

PUMA develops biodegradable RE:SUEDE sneaker with Zeology

PUMA has developed an experimental version of its most iconic sneaker to test for a product to make it biodegradable. The RE:SUEDE is made from Zeology tanned suede.

Turning RE:SUEDE sneakers made with Zeology Suede into compost

Sports company PUMA showed that it can successfully turn an experimental version of its classic SUEDE sneaker into compost under certain tailor-made industrial conditions, as it announced the results of its two year-long RE:SUEDE experiment.