A pilot project turns experimental sneakers into compost

November 29, 2023

A pilot project turns experimental sneakers into compost

November 29, 2023

We did it! We turned an experimental version of our icon  – the SUEDE – into compost, laying the ground work for future circularity programs. The experiment happened under certain tailor-made industrial conditions, for the past two years and we have now seen the first results. Learn everything about our RE:SUEDE jouney!

In 2021, we created 500 pairs of the experimental RE:SUEDE, using Zeology tanned suede, a Thermoplastic Rubber (TPR) outsole and hemp fibres. The RE:SUEDEs were worn for half a year by volunteers in Germany to test the comfort and durability of the shoes before we sent them to a specially equipped industrial composting area operated by our partner Ortessa Group in the Netherlands.

Turning Trainers into Tulips

A special procedure had to be established to turn the shoes into compost. First, they were shredded and mixed with other green household waste and placed into a composting tunnel. They were then sprayed with leaching-water from earlier composting that contains nutrients and naturally heated due to the biological activity and controlled air circulation in the tunnel. After approximately 3.5 months, the materials that were small enough (<10mm) to pass through a sieve were sold as Grade A compost for agricultural use in the Netherlands, while the remaining materials were returned to the composting tunnel until they too had broken down to the desired level (<10mm).

🎬 Check out how it works 🔊!


“While the RE:SUEDE could not be processed under the standard operating procedures for industrial composting, the shoes did eventually turn into compost. We will continue to innovate with our partners to determine the infrastructure and technologies needed to make the process viable for a commercial version of the RE:SUEDE, including a takeback scheme, in 2024.”

Anne-Laure Descours, Chief Sourcing Officer at PUMA.

Learn to grow

Transparency is another important pillar of the RE:SUEDE experiment. We will share our insights in a detailed report, so our peers and other interested stakeholders can learn from our experiment and apply the learnings to their own initiatives.


Read the RE:SUEDE Handbook here!

“We learned a lot during the RE:SUEDE trial and how to streamline our industrial composting process to include items that need longer to turn into compost. While all RE:SUEDE materials can decompose, the sole of the RE:SUEDE required more pre-processing and additional time in the composting tunnel to completely break down.”

Marthien van Eersel Manager Materials & Innovations at Ortessa.

An icon becomes FOREVER.BETTER.

As a result of the feedback received from the people who wore the RE:SUEDE for half a year, we will improve the comfort of future versions of the shoes by enhancing the overall fit. A new material pattern for the upper and the sock liner will make the RE:SUEDES not only FOREVER.BETTER. but also FOREVER.COMFIER.

The RE:SUEDE experiment was the first programme, together with the novel polyester recycling programme RE:FIBRE. It launches as part of our “Circular Lab”, an innovation hub led by our innovation and design experts with the aim to create circularity programmes to make the future FOREVER.BETTER.

Download our CATch up APP to your smartphone now.


More Sustainability @ PUMA

More featured

Always stay
up to date


I agree that the PUMA group may use my personal data (including my e-mail address) for promotional and marketing purposes in accordance with the PUMA privacy policy and send information about products of the PUMA group to my e-mail address. I can withdraw my consent at any time in the future by sending an e-mail to or via the link in each e-mail.