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Dozen Companies to Join Puma EP&L Coalition; Firm Now Reporting at Product Level

Sportswear company Puma has followed its environmental profit and loss (EP&L) process down to the product level, and is planning an industry coalition to broaden adoption of the sustainability accounting method.

The company will soon launch the InCycle collection of biodegradable and recyclable shoes, apparel and accessories, and has released EP&L results showing that the Puma InCycle Basket sneaker and a Puma InCycle shirt have 31 percent less environmental impact than their conventional counterparts.

The EP&L statement revealed that it takes 31 trucks with a load capacity of 13,000 kg to clear the waste that 100,000 pairs of conventional Puma suede sneakers cause during production, consumer life and disposal. In comparison, 12 trucks are needed to clear the waste that 100,000 pairs of biodegradable Puma InCycle Baskets cause, until they end up in an industrial composting facility system.

The environmental impacts of the InCycle Basket add up to €2.95 ($3.82) per pair, 31 percent lower than that of the conventional Puma Suede at €4.29 per pair, the company said.

Speaking to the Guardian, Puma chairman Jochen Zeitz compared the product EP&Ls to nutritional labeling on cereal boxes. “Many of our customers do care about the environment but they may be confused by lots of labels, but this will change once we have standardized the calculation and put a tag on every product,” he said.

He said Puma will next year announce a coalition of about a dozen companies, across a number of sectors, leading the way on EP&L implementation. He said some companies have already committed themselves to the effort, and others are developing EP&Ls “quietly.”

After Puma’s 2010 Environmental Profit and Loss Account revealed that 57 percent of the company’s environmental impacts are associated with the production of raw materials such as leather, cotton and rubber, the company focused on increasing the number of products made of more sustainable materials.

As a result only what Puma calls “clever” raw materials have been used to manufacture this collection: the InCycle range uses among others biodegradable polymers, recycled polyester and organic cotton in order to eliminate pesticides, chemical fertilizers and other chemicals. Puma’s InCycle track jacket is 98 percent comprised of recycled polyester deriving from used PET bottles.

All items in the InCycle collection are either biodegradable, or can be recycled when consumers return them to Puma’s Bring Me Back program at the end of their lifecycles, the company said. The InCycle backpack is made of polypropylene and will be returned to the original manufacturer in China after collection, who will then produce new backpacks from the recycled polypropylene.

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