Saturday, September 26, 2009

PUMA outruns the pack in carbon footprinting

Going for a run ? Quick jog in the park? Got a new pair of PUMA sports shoes? Know anyone who has ? Then you might be interested in the PUMA Sustainability Report covering 2007/2008. Even if you wear a rival brand of sports footwear, you may still be interested in above-mentioned report. Why all the fuss ? I will let them tell it:

QUOTE from report:
In 2008 PUMA commissioned a diploma thesis to investigate the carbon footprint of the PUMA shoe Van Slobbe Logo Lux. Taking into consideration that no universally accepted standard on carbon footprint mapping was existent, we followed the methodology of the Carbon Trust and used the software Umberto as well as the data bases Ecoinvent and Probas. Product carbon footprinting is a relatively new method. Therefore, we had to make certain assumptions for our calculations. Although inaccuracies have to be taken into consideration, the results are quite surprising. For example, 57% of the 41 kg CO2 emitted per pair of shoes originate from cattle farming and another 37% from pig farming .This means that the overwhelming carbon emissions of our shoe can be traced back to leather production, while transport emissions are rather low in comparison. Taking into account the erroneous or missing data, the result is a carbon footprint of 41.08 kg for the PUMA “Van Slobbe Logo Lux” shoe." UNQUOTE

So, now you can blame cows and pigs for the fact that your running gear is causing global warming. Oink!

Another interesting thing about this analysis is that several countries are involved in the supply chain of this Van Slobbe Logo Lux shoe (couldn't they have chosen a shorter brand name ?) This involved shipping from Cameroon, transport between Romania and Italy, shipping from China, resources in Germany and shipping from Argentina. Looks like these shoes started running long before you did!

Removing the livestock data for the leather processing elements, the key impacts are :
*   24.39 % derived from all transportation processes
*   34.69 % derived from incineration (not sure excactly what they incinerate)
*   21.33 % derived from manufacturing processes
*   19.42 % derived from producing electricity

OK. Stop. Pause. Chunky Monkey. Think.
Why is all this so exciting?

First: PUMA is one of the only reporters i know to have gone to such lengths to calculate the carbon footprint of their product and report it transparently. Thumbs UP!
Second: The insights from this exercise provide the basis for taking action to reduce carbon footprints and climate change effects.Indeed, they provide the basis for an industry-wide methodology and set a standard for others to follow. Thumbs UP!
Third: It provides material for a really fascinating blog post (Modesty is a strong point with me). Fingers and thumbs UP!

The next time you go running in your snazzy PUMA Van Slobbe thing shoes, remember this: cows and pigs are the reason you feel so hot and sweaty.   

elaine cohen is the joint CEO of BeyondBusiness, a leading reporting and social-environmental consulting firm . Visit our website at:

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