Ridding harmful chemicals from colors
The consultants at EPEA brought a lot of value to the process, especially when it came to working with some matters regarding suppliers, notes DeKoszmovszky. Puma had to re-evaluate the chemicals that go into the colors it chooses for its products to make sure they complied with the Cradle to Cradle criteria for safety and health.
Getting rid of volatile organic compounds in the pigment and dye stocks was essential. Once the new color ranges were defined, designers had to work within those constraints.
"There were some limitations in colors we could get from the certifiable colors we were able to use on a pinnacle sustainable product, but that was part of the tool kit our designers worked with," he explains. "It focuses the designer to think in a great amount of detail about certain components and think holistically as well. There may be some limitations on some colors, but as we roll out new lines in future seasons, our designers will use those limitations as inspiration."
Meeting criteria for renewable energy, water and social fairness
Puma was already addressing some elements of renewable energy and water conservation through some of its supply chain, so complying with those standards for the Cradle to Cradle certification at the basic level was easy to meet, notes DeKoszmovszky.
"Our pre-existing and rigorous supply chain auditing and information system enabled us to know that we were in good standing to meet the basic criteria for renewable energy, water and social fairness elements," he says. "We've done a lot of work for our own operations, but we're now driving it down into the supply chain, too. We have some programs we'll be launching to improve the environmental footprint of our suppliers."
Puma will have to work harder at making greater improvements along those lines as it pursues the next certification level, but a major reason Puma executives took on the Cradle to Cradle challenge was to push themselves to improve product sustainability.
"We asked ourselves: 'Can we create the industry's first biodegradable and recyclable collection?' The certification process encouraged us to push the envelope," DeKoszmovszky says.
The company plans to create original designs with similar or tougher sustainability requirements that DeKoszmovszky says will bring a newness to products as they are made with another round of certification in mind.
He doesn't downplay the positive bounce they hope to generate from achieving the Cradle to Cradle badge of honor.
"Certification is fantastic because it gives you the external credibility," he asserts. "From a marketing standpoint, it's something that consumers can have a high degree of confidence in. Having the Cradle to Cradle logo on our products is positive and it means a fair amount to consumers in the know."
Images courtesy of Puma.