A brand that was a fashion success story in lockdown hopes to become carbon neutral by 2030. Crocs, the once-rejected shoe company that rose to fame during the pandemic, is making major changes to the clogs’ formulas and will be completely bio-based by 2022.
The shoe, named one of Time magazine’s worst inventions in 2010, will be remade using a natural mix. Ecolibrium is a new material made from hydrocarbons from renewable resources as well as waste products like palm oil and paper. The new production process is “carbon negative”, according to the company.
Andrew Rees, chief executive, called out companies for “greenwashing”. He made a distinction between companies that actively try to reduce carbon gas emissions and those that attempt to achieve zero carbon through offset initiatives like upcycling old items. He stated that “our net zero” includes all aspects of the company’s footprint, including how it operates and the products we sell.
The brand is open about its carbon footprint, which is about 3.94 kg of CO2 per pair – a low figure for fashion. They claim that they not only want to reduce this number but also aim to become completely carbon neutral by 2030.
Greenpeace UK however, criticized Crocs’ use of palm oil as part of the new ingredients. Anna Jones, head forest, stated that substituting palm oil for Crocs’ contribution will not solve the problem of climate change. It ignores the fact that palm oil plantations are driving land use expansion, which has direct consequences for climate change.
She said that the palm oil industry was opaque and extremely complicated. Jones stated that supply chains are not well monitored, and that regulations to protect forests are poorly implemented. They also contain loopholes that allow companies largely to ignore them. She stated that it is difficult to secure a reliable supply of sustainably harvested palm oil on the current market. Until the industry is properly regulated and the demand for palm oil decreases, claims about “sustainable palm oil” are likely to be false.
There will be no price hike for the new Crocs, unlike other shoe brands such as Nike and Converse who produce more environmentally friendly ranges of their existing shoes (Space Hippie .and .Renew, respectively) and sell them for a higher price in part because renewable ingredients are more expensive. Rees explained to .Fast Company that most companies do this so they can charge more. “We love the line, “Green comes in all colours”.
After being mocked for years, Crocs have become a pop culture phenomenon, beloved by celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj, as well as gaining popularity .during the pandemic as people flocked to “comfort wear”. According to the company, its revenue projections will reach PS4.2bn ($5bn by 2026).
Fashion industry continues to work towards improving its sustainability record. According to the report by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (Boston Consulting Group), New York Fashion Week had produced between 40-8000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions in October. The report identified six areas for improvement, including an increase in on-site recycling and a decrease in transportation. These improvements were implemented during NYFW.
Crocs responded to the Guardian’s question about palm oil. A spokesperson for the company said that Crocs had teamed up with Dow, a global material science company, to develop Ecolibrium technology. This transforms waste and byproducts from sustainable sources into shoes that have all the comfort of Crocs but emit less. Dow guarantees that all bio residues and other by-products it sources are sustainable and certified. They only use byproducts that are not in direct competition with the food chain. By finding a way to use material that would otherwise be thrown away, Dow is able to ensure that these products become part the circular economy.