Puma was once a part of the Dassler Shuhfabrik, a German company that was run by two brothers who eventually got into a fight that split the company in half. One branch went on to become Adidas and we know the other by the name of Puma. While Puma is definitely smaller than its brother in terms of revenue, it’s still one of the largest sports brands in the world.
The German-born brand shows signs that it is trying to change its practices for the better. Puma measures and publishes environmental performance and some of the data shows it’s improving its environmental performance concerning waste- and water management, renewable energy, and carbon emissions. The company also set an emission reduction target with the Science Based Target Initiative which aims for a 35% reduction of its own greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Scope 3 emissions are targeted at a big 60% reduction. These are great and ambitious targets and there are definitely some mechanisms in place that will cause improvement. In 2019, 79% of energy used in Puma’s complete supply chain originated from renewable sources and the brand is sourcing more sustainable materials through a partnership with Bluesign. A leap forward has been made with sustainable cotton, which is currently 82% Better Cotton Initiative certified. The company has also disclosed generated supply chain emissions and we gain insight into where its supply chain factories are located.
That’s where it stops. The data shows that the earlier mentioned targets for environmental performance are being improved, but the actual change is very little. We learn that Puma is not on track for reduction of carbon emissions or wastewater. The stage is set for a lack of transparency and vagueness in the company’s reporting. We don’t get further information about material sourcing, but instead find out that there are no reports on the sourcing of animal materials at all. Packaging is mentioned, but there is not enough action to improve. When we learn that the percentage of workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement is only 26.7% and there is no third-party auditing to ensure workers are treated fairly, Puma’s previously mentioned sustainable targets and ambitions seem to fall like a house of cards. As is often the case with big companies, sustainability is an internal fight between stakeholders fighting over which resources to allocate where. We don’t doubt that Puma has a great team of like-minded individuals who are willing to fight for change. However, transparency is the key for improvement and it’s a shame that that’s not fully provided at the moment.