Puma's New Tack on Sustainable Consumption: Compostable Clothes

In the last 18 months or so, Puma has hit the ground running with a number of industry-leading (and, truthfully, world-leading) sustainability initiatives. From their groundbreaking environmental profit-and-loss statement to green packaging plans to a commitment to zero toxic pollution by 2020, the sportswear company has made big strides on addressing its environmental impacts.

But as with all consumer-facing companies, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is what happens to your goods when your customers no longer want them. Another sustainability-minded brand, Patagonia, recently took steps to get people to buy used clothes first, but Puma is taking a different tack: Making their clothes compostable.

In The Guardian, Louise Osborn reports on comments made by Puma CEO Franz Koch suggesting that the company is looking at closing the loop on its products. Osborn writes:

"We are confident that in the near future we will be able to bring the first shoes, T-shirts and bags, that are either compostable or recyclable, to the market," Puma boss Franz Koch told the German business magazine Wirtschaftswoche.
He explained that the company was working with partners on developing products on the principle of the "cradle-to-cradle" design. "It follows two circuits, the technical and the biological: I can use old shoes to make new ones or something completely different, such as car tyres," said Koch, who has led the sports clothing company since July.
"In the biological cycle, I can make shoes and shirts that are compostable so I can shred them and bury them in the back garden. We are working on products that meet these two criteria."

In the context of the Green Trinity, recycling is less preferable than reusing or reducing -- and composting is a kind of recycling, of course. But even if we don't all end up putting our soiled jerseys in the soil, it's interesting to see a company pushing forward on innovative ways to close the loop on their products.

You can read more about Puma's sustainability plans in this profile from our own Adam Aston. But I'm curious to know what you think about compostable clothing: Is it a great green idea or a project that will never (or should never) bear fruit?

Shoe photo CC-licensed by O. Taillon.