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Is Puma ethical? Sportswear giant Puma may be improving its sustainability targets in recent years, but it still has work to do across the board to achieve a higher rating. This article is based on the Puma rating published in Feb 2022.
Is Puma ethical and sustainable?
There are three major sportswear manufacturers: Nike, Adidas, and Puma. We’ve already touched on Nike and Adidas’ sustainability practices, so it was high time we took a closer look at Puma.
Puma was officially founded in Germany in 1948, but the story starts a little bit before that. In the 1920s, brothers Rudolf and Adolf Dassler founded “Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik” (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory) in their hometown Herzogenaurach, Germany. The two brothers fell out and went their separate ways: Adolf created Adidas, and Rudolf launched Puma (mind-blowing, right?).
More than 60 years later, Puma has grown significantly. Like Adidas, the brand has relentlessly pushed sportswear forward by creating innovative gear recognised and endorsed by some of the world’s most accomplished athletes.
But how is Puma doing on the sustainability front? How is it impacting the planet, people, and animals? How ethical is Puma?
Let’s take a look.
We rate Puma’s environmental impact “It’s a Start”. Puma uses some eco-friendly materials, including recycled materials. It has also set a science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated from its operations and supply chain, and it is on track to meet its target. However, while Puma has also set a deadline to eliminate hazardous chemicals by 2025, the progress is unclear. Plus, there is no evidence it minimises textile waste when manufacturing its products.
Puma’s labour rating is also “It’s a Start”. Its supply chain auditing is accredited with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and applies to all of the final stages of production, which is a good start. That being said, we found no evidence Puma implements practices to encourage diversity and inclusion in most of its supply chain, nor that it ensures payment of a living wage, which is a big red flag for us. Puma did, however, disclose policies and safeguards to protect suppliers and workers in its supply chain from the impacts of COVID-19.
Finally, when it comes to animal welfare, we rate Puma “Not Good Enough”. The brand has a formal animal welfare policy aligned with Five Freedoms and some implementation. And while Puma does not use exotic animal hair, fur, or angora, it still uses leather and exotic animal skin, as well as down certified by the Responsible Down Standard. It states it uses wool from non-mulesed sheep, but there is no evidence on how it is enforced.
Overall rating: It’s a start
We rate Puma “It’s a Start” based on our thorough research and methodology. The brand has taken some steps in the right direction by using more eco-friendly materials, and if that’s important to you, it might be worth having a closer look at the brand. However, the lack of diversity and inclusion policies, and more importantly, the lack of evidence the brand pays its workers a living wage, is worrying. A brand that wants to be sustainable needs to take a holistic approach to its operations, taking into account its impact on the planet, people, and animals, and not just focus on better materials.
Note that Good On You ratings consider 100s of issues, and it is not possible to list every relevant issue in a summary of the brand’s performance. For more information, see our How We Rate page and our FAQs.
If you’re into sportswear or need sports gear, but want to shop more in line with your values, here are a few of our favourite sustainable alternatives to Puma.
Sustainable alternatives to Puma