The race to create the most sustainable shoe continues.
By 2030, Boston-based New Balance shoes says it will have reduced greenhouse has emissions by 30 percent, kept all waste out of landfills, sourced 50 percent recycled polyester, and converted to 100 percent renewable electricity across all operations. The shift is part of the brand’s ongoing efforts to green its label. New Balance says over the coming years it plans to “significantly” increase its environmentally–friendly offerings.
“Sustainability has always been a top priority for New Balance and our commitment to fostering a healthier planet has never been stronger,” New Balance head of global sustainability John Stokes said in a statement. “We need to act with urgency, and our work is further strengthened by like-minded alliances that help extend our reach. Creating and sustaining a healthier planet requires a collective effort and we couldn’t be more excited for the work ahead with some truly incredible individuals and organizations by our side.”
The sportswear giant is also improving on its Millennial and Gen-Z targeted footwear by giving its Jaden Smith Vision Racer ReWorked an eco upgrade. The shoes, launching later this month, will include at least 30 percent upcycled factory textile waste, which is branded as Spinnex. Midsoles will include at least five percent EVA regrind, which reduces waste. EVA—ethylene-vinyl acetate—is a polymer that helps with the rubbery texture in shoe soles.
“Whether it’s starting Just Water or collaborating with New Balance, I’m energetically interested in bringing more sustainable options and features into everyday lifestyle items and everyday culture,” Smith said. “These items act as a lens into ways more people can participate in better global health with simple choices while learning and becoming smarter, more aware of the solutions that are out there. We just need to demand them and choose them.”
The quest for the most sustainable shoe—a move being led by German athletic wear brand Adidas—will see New Balance help its customers choose the more sustainable product through a recognizable green leaf icon. It says this is “the biggest and most immediate way” to make a positive change. The company will partner with GIZ Energy Support Program in order to improve its energy supply chain efficiency and to develop rooftop solar energy projects.
It’s also contributing 1 percent of the MSRP from its sustainable Fresh Foam Hierro v6 sales in the US to the nonprofit 1% for the Planet. It works to support organizations fighting climate change and protecting public lands. It’s also working with The Renewal Workshop to help educate and train designers on garment recycling as well as creating apparel that lends itself to avenues of repair, rather than replacement.
New Balance is also taking steps to empower its workforce. By 2025 the company says 100 percent of the women who work in its footwear factories will have access to education and skills courses.