Sporting goods maker Puma will launch eco-friendly packaging for its sneakers next year to reduce its carbon footprint, beating governments to the punch as it kisses old-fashion shoe boxes good-bye.
Puma said it would roll out the new packaging in the second half of next year and that by putting its shoes in cardboard frames wrapped in reusable shoe bags, it would save 8,500 tonnes of paper — the weight of more than 1,400 adult elephants.
It also said the change would mean a reduction of 60 percent in water and energy used during the production process and the amount needed for transportation due to lighter packaging.
However, Puma Chief Executive Jochen Zeitz told Reuters the company would not save money with the new packaging.
"To begin with, we don't expect to save costs with this. It may even have a negative impact in the short term. But over the long run, there should be cost savings," he said.
"Sustainability is not only absolutely necessary considering the situation our planet is in, we as companies are also overdue to take responsibility," Zeitz said. "We can't wait for governments. Companies have to lead the way and we want to be among the leaders."
Annual U.N. climate meetings have failed to achieve any major breakthrough since signing the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.
December's Copenhagen summit was billed as the world's best chance to agree a new treaty. Failure to achieve a treaty or the smaller goal of binding carbon cuts for rich nations has sapped momentum and is forcing a search for less ambitious solutions.
The chief executive said he hoped other companies would follow their lead.
"In changing the packaging and distribution life cycle from the ground up, we hope our new design and comprehensive solution encourages other retail companies to follow suit," said industrial designer Yves Behar, who created the new packaging.
Puma is the world's third-largest sporting goods maker, behind U.S. bellwether Nike and local rival Adidas.