They put together a cross-functional product team in-house, assembling representatives from footwear, accessories and apparel divisions. Puma drew in some of its innovation design experts, as well as individuals from communications, marketing and sales.
Then they partnered with outside consultants from the Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency, a firm founded by Michael Braungart, who co-authored the book on Cradle to Cradle design principles with William McDonough. The institute trains assessors who wish to become accredited assessors.
Another important partner was I:CO, a global leader in bring-back programs, which collects items returned to retailers for recycling. "Working with I:CO helped us get the program launched and operational faster than if we built (that segment) ourselves," says DeKoszmovszky (pictured below).
Iconic Puma gear reinvented
Instead of designing a new line of goods from scratch, Puma executives decided to retool some of its iconic, heritage products into new biodegradable or recyclable versions. Nineteen new products are being launched in this new line.
Puma already had systems in place to move the company toward greater sustainability, including its "S Index," which uses internal measures to track product sustainability and drives more eco-friendly design and manufacturing choices. Puma executives set a goal for half of products to meet the index by 2015; by the end of 2012, 22 percent met the index.
"Our new InCycle line was a pinnacle approach of the most sustainable thing we could do to push toward end-of-life usability and biodegradable products," says DeKoszmovszky. "We were used to gathering data from our tier one and tier two suppliers, but this time around another level of detail that was required."
Sustainability wasn't new for Puma, but the commitment to create individual products that were either 100 percent biodegradable or recyclable brought new challenges at the micro level they hadn't yet encountered.
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