For example, most threads used to sew together sports apparel and shoes are made with polyester, but Puma learned that complying with the biodegradable criteria required cotton thread. Previously, Puma only defined the thread's color, not the content. Its reimagined basket shoe is now made with organic cotton threads, but it was tough finding suppliers who could assemble the shoe using only cotton fibers in its threads.
"We had to go against the current because lots of suppliers use only polyester thread," DeKoszmovszky recalls. "Our sources had to dig around for cotton thread, but they eventually found it."
Puma will encourage consumers to bring the fully biodegradable shoes back to a Puma store when they're worn out. The shoes will get shipped to a plant for industrial composting. The shoes will be shredded before they are broken down by micro-organisms. Some plants will capture the resulting methane to be used for generating energy.
Swapping out a metal zipper for recyclability
To make the line's products completely recyclable, Puma had to redesign items to be made out of only one recyclable material or a number of recyclable components that could be separated and reused, explains DeKoszmovszky.
The T7 Track Jacket, one of Puma's classic pieces included in the new lineup, for example, was traditionally made of recycled polyester. Now designers had to ensure it could be recycled after being returned to a Puma retail location.
The big challenge was the metal zipper, which had to be made of the same material as the jacket. Designers were able to create a new zipper made out of the same polyester as the rest of the jacket without compromising wearability and durability.
"That zipper performs as well as any other zipper we'd put out into the market," asserts DeKoszmovszky. "It took some innovation and working with the supplier that wasn't part of our normal process, but it was also a way to challenge ourselves."
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