Crocs – the previously hated shoe company that became a fashion success story during the pandemic – is drastically changing the ingredients of clogs and will be fully bio-based by 2022.
The shoe, named one of Time magazine’s worst inventions of 2010, will be remade using a natural blend. The new material, called Ecolibrium, is constructed from hydrocarbons extracted from renewable resources and wastes such as palm oil and pulp. The company qualifies the new production process as “negative carbon”.
Managing Director Andrew Rees called on other companies to do “greenwashing,” distinguishing between those actively trying to reduce their carbon emissions and those trying to achieve zero carbon through greenwashing initiatives. compensation such as recycling old items. “Our net zero includes the entire footprint, not only how we operate the business, but also all of our products,” he said.
The brand has been transparent about its carbon footprint: around 3.94 kg of CO2 per pair – already low for the fashion industry – and says it is not only trying to lower that figure but to be completely neutral in carbon by 2030.
However, Greenpeace UK has criticized Crocs’ use of palm oil in the new ingredients. “Substituting palm oil will not solve Crocs’ contribution to climate change,” said Anna Jones, head of forestry. “This ignores the fact that the expansion of land use for oil palm plantations is a driver of deforestation which has direct consequences fueling the climate crisis.”
She added that the palm oil industry was not transparent and “extremely complicated”. Jones said supply chains are poorly monitored and regulations designed to preserve forests are poorly implemented and contain a series of loopholes that allow companies to largely ignore them. “Securing a reliable supply of sustainably produced palm oil in today’s market is nearly impossible, and until the industry is properly regulated and the growing demand for palm oil subsides, any claims about” sustainable palm oil ”will probably be snake oil. ,” she said.
There will be no price hike for the new Crocs, unlike other shoe brands such as Nike and Converse which produce more environmentally friendly ranges of their existing shoes (Space Hippie and Renew, respectively) and sell them at a higher price in part because of the renewable ingredients. are more expensive. “Most companies do it so they can charge a premium,” Rees told Fast Company. “We like to use the line, ‘green comes in all colors’.”
After being mocked for years, the Crocs became a pop culture phenomenon, beloved by celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj, and gained popularity during the pandemic as people flocked to “comfort clothing.” “. The company said its projected revenue would be £ 4.2 billion ($ 5 billion) by 2026.
The fashion industry continues its attempts to improve its sustainability record. In October, New York Fashion Week was estimated to have caused between 40 and 48,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, according to a report by the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the Boston Consulting Group. Six areas for improvement were highlighted by the report, including increased on-site recycling and reduced transportation, which were implemented during the NYFW which took place over the weekend.
In response to the use of palm oil, a spokesperson for the Crocs company told The Guardian: “Crocs has worked with Dow, a global materials science company, to incorporate new Ecolibrium technology that transforms sustainably sourced waste and by-products into a shoe that has all of the comfort you expect from Crocs, but with fewer emissions. Dow ensures that all of the bioresidues and by-products it sources from can be obtained in a sustainable and certified manner. In addition, they only use by-products that do not compete with the food chain, and by finding a use for materials that would otherwise be wasted, they are able to ensure that these products are part of the food chain. circular economy. “