Crocs redesigns shoes to be bio-based and more ecological

From the pandemic accessory to the red carpet trend, Crocs are hotter than ever this year. But the brand is also focusing on another type of heat: climate change. Of course, the gradual boiling of our planet is significantly less fun than, say, a catalog of mini lightning, lava lamp, and avocado charms, all of which you can buy on the site. Crocs website and stick in the different pores of its iconic rubber clogs, but the company wants to make the fight against climate change the heart of its brand like these colorful pins.

As a first step in its quest to become a zero-carbon company by 2030, Crocs is remaking its shoes with a new bio-based material, the company announced today, which is expected to debut in all styles in 2022.

The material, called Ecolibrium technology, was designed in collaboration with the global materials science company Dow. It’s built with hydrocarbons extracted from renewable resources and wastes like palm oil and pulp, rather than natural gases, forming what the company says is a carbon negative process, while keeping the same. feel that the original Croc. Crocs has been transparent about the carbon footprint of its shoes in the past – 3.94 kilograms of CO2 per pair, already at the bottom of the scale for the industry – and the introduction of Ecolibrium will bring that number down further. , he says, although it’s not clear how many.

Crocs unveiled its ambitious zero carbon goal last July, which CEO Andrew Rees said Fast business had been under construction for several years. But the development of the bio-based shoe was a key catalyst in accelerating the plan. “Without the durable material, this would be difficult to achieve,” says Rees. Of course, there are still challenges ahead: Renewables are always more expensive than regular sources, and Crocs is constrained by Dow’s supply bandwidth, which he says will be the biggest limiting factor. debit. The new shoes will not be 100% Ecolibrium, but will feature a percentage of environmentally friendly materials that the brand hopes to increase to 50% by 2030.

If the shoe fits you, count with it

Crocs is one of the many companies that have chosen the banner for environmental causes, in the midst of a sustainability revolution. Consumers, largely led by the socially conscious Gen Z cohort, are now demanding that big companies consider their negative impacts on the rest of the world: greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, animal cruelty and forced labor. Companies from Amazon and Ikea in Zara have signed climate commitments and launched recycling programs. It has become unquestionably cool to take care of it, and the shoe industry is no exception: check out the website of any trendy shoe brand (Clarks, Vans, Veja) and there are strong chances that there is a page dedicated to sustainability.

But according to Rees, there are a few things that make Crocs unique. On the one hand, it’s about shifting all of its products to greener materials, rather than going the common path of launching a handful of sustainable options. “Most companies do this so they can charge a premium,” Rees explains. It’s not hard to guess which: for example, Nike’s much-publicized Space Hippie collection, which is created with scraps of recycled shoes, sells for over $ 180, almost a hundred dollars more than some of the styles. classics of the brand. Converse’s Renew collection costs around $ 20 to $ 30 more for a few stylish, eco-friendly designs. According to the Crocs team, her revamped shoes will sell for the same price as before and include all of her iconic looks and designs. “We like to use the line, ‘green comes in all colors,’” says Rees.

On another point, Rees makes a distinction between companies that actively strive to reduce their gas emissions and those that attempt to achieve net zero carbon only through offsets, a tactic he says customers are considering. as “dishonest”. Compensation could mean that a company recycles its products after use, like Teva’s Forever program, which turns old sandals into running tracks and playgrounds, or promises other good deeds, like Cariuma pledging to plant. 10 trees for each shoe sold. While positive, one could argue that these solutions miss the root of the problem. But Rees says Crocs is committed to doing the hard work to improve from the core: “Our net zero includes the entire footprint, not just how we operate the business, but also all of our. products. “

Unlike a Teva sandal, it is difficult for a Croc to be broken down and reused due to the delicate nature of plastics. But that may be offset by the shoe’s ridiculous longevity – owners claim it will last virtually forever. Crocs also operates a “second life” donation program that brings used shoes to impoverished communities, and says its new bio-based formula “improves our ability to explore a circular supply chain in the future”.

A big sustainability challenge is balancing profitability, which can be difficult to achieve. Take Allbirds’ recent IPO prospectus, for example, which reveals that the company expects to “incur losses for the foreseeable future”. Crocs is optimistic that its work on sustainability will do more than just bring cleaner air; it could also bring in some real money. While the company touts a large consumer base (doctors, chefs, pop stars, schoolchildren), Rees believes the focus on sustainability will increase its influence with the precious Gen Z demographic, which has historically not been a major segment. As he puts it, “young consumers are increasingly looking to buy brands that they think are doing the right thing.”

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