Images by B. Alter
Puma invited super-star industrial designer Yves Behar to design a packaging system for its shoes that would be more sustainable. In reponse, Behar came up with "The Clever Little Bag". It's a sheet of folded cardboard inside a bright red PET bag that is going to change shoe packaging.
By switching away from boxes, Puma is saving 8,500 tons of paper, a million litres of water and a million litres of fuel. The system will reduce paper used for shoeboxes by 65% and carbon emissions by 10 tons per year.
Behar was at the Design Museum in London, along with Jochen Zeitz, the Chairman and CEO of PUMA, to announce Puma's new long-term Sustainability Programme that will see the company reduce waste and carbon emissions by 25% and develop 50% of its products according to best sustainable practices by 2015.
Behar talked about his reinvention of the show box system by explaining the thought process that led to it. He looked at cardboard and folding and reduced printing but realized that these were just incremental changes. Finally he came to understand that the best box is no box.
From that realization he developed the clever little bag which uses a single folded sheet of cardboard. The bag is made of recycled PET and is recyclable. It holds the board in place and allows it be stacked as well as protecting the shoes in the journey from plant to store.
The packaging will not be introduced to the public until mid-2011 because there are issues to be worked out with the supply chain; distribution centres and retail stores. They have to be convinced to change their systems to handle the new packaging. This is a similar problem to that experienced by Sony with the innovative, eco-packaging for their new VAIO laptop. If the retailers are not willing to accept change and new ways of packaging, then all the best efforts of the designers are for nought.
Behar said that it is the responsibility of designers to look at things from all angles; he said that sustainability is the future of design, and the biggest opportunity to make a difference as designers--it is their way of addressing 21st century issues.
Tee-shirts are being packaged in biodegradable corn starch bags which will save 720 tons of plastic yearly (that's equal to 29 million plastic bags). By folding them one more (extra) time they are able to reduce packaging by 45%.
Jochen Zeitz, the Chairman and CEO of PUMA, introduced their new long-term 360 Sustainability Program which is a comprehensive and ambitious plan to further reduce the company's "paw print". Called PUMAVision, their vision of a better world, they are carrying out initiatives under three categories: puma.safe, puma.peace and puma.creative to give back to the environment what it has taken. They have a goal to be the most desirable and sustainable Sportslifestyle company in the world. They will do this by working towards closed-loop systems and more recycling programmes.
They have introduced a PUMA S-Index which they hope will become an industry standard. It is an auditing approach which sees sustainability as a complete system and creates a set of criteria for what should constitute sustainability. The S-Index ( their short form is sin) will be the standard for all their products and packaging.
When questioned, Zeitz conceded that PUMA does not manufacture its goods in Europe or Africa. He said that they should diversify their manufacturing platform so that it is not all done in Asia. The cardboard for the packaging is made in China because it is still a prototype. Once in production, the board will be made at or near the source of the shoes; be that Brazil or Argentina. He said that there is a patent pending for the bag design but that he would be happy to share it with others and make it a universal system.