PUMA develops biodegradable RE:SUEDE sneaker with Zeology

Sports company PUMA has developed an experimental version of its most iconic sneaker, the SUEDE, to test for a product to make it biodegradable. By doing so, PUMA aims to meet the growing demand for sustainable products for a better future. The RE:SUEDE, which uses the latest technology available today, will be made from more sustainable materials such as Zeology tanned suede, biodegradable TPE and hemp fibres.

The Zeology tanning system is based on the mineral zeolite and is chrome-free, heavy metal-free and aldehyde-free.

PUMA’s circular ambitions

The RE:SUEDE experiment is a pilot in circularity, and today’s ultimate expression of the next generation SUEDE – with the ambition to set new standards of sustainability for the iconic shoe. Designed to help address the challenge of waste management in the footwear industry, the RE:SUEDE experiment will allow PUMA to take more responsibility when it comes to tackling the ‘after life’ of its products.  The pilot will launch in January 2022, offering 500 selected participants in Germany the chance to join PUMA on its experimental journey towards circularity.

In partnership with PUMA, participants will wear their RE:SUEDEs for six months to test out the durability of a product using biodegradable materials in real life, before sending them back to PUMA via a take back infrastructure, designed to move the products to the next step in the experiment. The sneakers will then be subject to an industrial biodegradation process in a controlled environment

Zeology suede

This pilot is a recharged, refreshed experiment in circularity, following PUMA’s exploration in the space in 2012, which saw the brand’s first attempt to create a biodegradable sneaker as part of its InCycle collection. Yet after four seasons, the sneaker was discontinued due to low demand and the need for further research and development.

Since 2012, PUMA’s innovation department has worked to address the technological limitations of the InCycle collection in order to apply such learnings into the RE:SUEDE experiment. Improvements include the use of new, innovative materials such as Zeology suede, which is made using a more sustainable tanning process and ensures better comfort for the wearer, when compared to other biodegradable materials evaluated at PUMA. The outsole of the RE:SUEDE has also been improved to ensure optimal wear.

No time for waste

“In 2012, our circular ambition was bold but the technology wasn’t quite there. As they say, with every challenge there’s an opportunity – and we’ve continued to push ourselves to do better by applying our strengths as well as acknowledging and improving on our weaknesses,” said Heiko Desens, PUMA’s Creative Director. “We hope that progress made during the RE:SUEDE experiment: ‘No Time For Waste‘ will help us continue to raise the bar in circularity testing – enabling our consumers to make better fashion choices in the future, so their sneakers can go ‘from Suede to Soil’, without compromising on product style or durability during ownership.”

“This is a proof point of our strategy to “create a socially and environmentally leather value chain, together”. Puma, their leather supplier and Royal Smit & Zoon jointly created RE:SUEDE, and all involved parties contributed their part of the value proposition,” responds Hans van Haarst, CEO Smit & Zoon.

With the RE:SUEDE, PUMA wants to give its consumers a stylish and more sustainable choice, while showcasing the latest technologies.

Read the full press release on Puma.com

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