Will Puma’s EP&L create a new Zeitz-geist?

For three years, Puma has been developing methods and tools to put a price tag on nature’s contributions to its operations, developing and compiling the first (ever) Environmental Profit and Loss statements.

Released in 2011 and 2012, detailing the German sportswear company's $192 million environmental impact in greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, waste, and water and land use, the reports are prototypes for a type of accounting that former Chair Jochen Zeitz left to implement at Puma’s parent company, PPR, and in a multi-industry coalition to be unveiled next year.

Last week, PPR unveiled a review of the methodology by sustainability experts and accountants that put the methods through the wringer, and came up largely positive. The report found that most of Puma’s counting tactics in its EP&L statements were solid, and that imprecision was due to a lack of available data or, in some cases, the sheer difficulty of quantifying something as complicated as the natural world.

So far, the EP&L statements released during 2011-2012 have been at the company, and most recently, the product level – with social variables to be added in later.

In its last statement, Puma compared its InCycle biodegradable shoes and tshirts with more traditionally made products. The company found the biodegradable goods had environmental costs a third lower, taking into account a wide variety of variables, including the land used to raise the cattle for the suede, the use (or absence) of dyes, and the greenhouse gas emissions from synthetic fertilizer used on conventionally grown cotton.

Puma released its methodology at the time and has said it’s a work in progress. So do the numbers hold water? And – most importantly – can they be replicated?

Next page: The expert panel's findings

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