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The RE:SUEDE experiment is a pilot in circularity. It will allow us to take more responsibility when it comes to tackling the ‘after life’ of our products. The pilot will launch in January 2022, offering 500 selected participants in Germany the chance to join PUMA on our experimental journey towards circularity.
In partnership with PUMA, participants will wear their RE:SUEDEs for six months to test out the durability of a product using biodegradable materials in real life, before sending them back to PUMA via a take back infrastructure, designed to move the products to the next step in the experiment. The sneakers will then be subject to an industrial biodegradation process in a controlled environment at Valor Compostering B.V., owned by Ortessa Groep B.V., a family-run business of waste specialists in the Netherlands. The goal of this step is to determine if Grade A compost can be produced for agricultural use. The findings will help us assess the biodegradable process and unpick essential research and development for the future of sustainable shoe consumption.
In 2012, our circular ambition was bold but the technology wasn’t quite there. As they say, with every challenge there’s an opportunity - and we’ve continued to push ourselves to do better by applying our strengths as well as acknowledging and improving on our weaknesses. We hope that progress made during the RE:SUEDE experiment: ‘No Time For Waste‘ will help us continue to raise the bar in circularity testing – enabling our consumers to make better fashion choices in the future, so their sneakers can go ‘from Suede to Soil’, without compromising on product style or durability during ownership.
The RE:SUEDE experiment is the first circular programme to launch under PUMA’s “Circular Lab” – a new innovation hub, which is led by our sustainability and design experts who work to develop the future of the PUMA’s circularity programmes.
This pilot is a recharged, refreshed experiment in circularity, following our exploration in the space in 2012, which saw PUMA´s first attempt to create a biodegradable sneaker as part of our InCycle collection. Yet after four seasons, the sneaker was discontinued due to low demand and the need for further research and development.
Since 2012, our innovation department has worked to address the technological limitations of the InCycle collection in order to apply such learnings into the RE:SUEDE experiment. Improvements include the use of new, innovative materials such as Zeology suede, which is made using a more sustainable tanning process and ensures better comfort for the wearer, when compared to other biodegradable materials evaluated at PUMA. The outsole of the RE:SUEDE has also been improved to ensure optimal wear.