Oct | 13
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Running Tips, Shoes & Gear

Working to Make Running Shoes More Sustainable

This past summer, Brooks hosted writer Florence Williams for a visit to our manufacturing facilities in China. Florence was doing research for an in-depth Runner’s World article about the environmental impact of running shoes. Our aim was to help her understand how complex running shoe material sourcing and manufacturing is, share the challenges all performance brands face when trying to make their products more sustainable, and show her what Brooks is doing to help move the needle on sustainability.

The article, entitled “The Runner’s Footprint,” now appears in Runner’s World’s November issue. We hope you read the article, and take a tour of our Green Room to learn more about Brooks’ sustainability efforts.

As our CEO Jim Weber says in the article, “It’s not all pretty . . .But we believe no one is working harder at it. Our belief is to be transparent. We are where we are, and we’re not pretending we’ve figured it out.”

3 Comments
  • Ken

    That’s always good when companies think about their global impact and how to lessen it. While there is only so much you can do as a company, it’s nice to see Brooks reevaluating where they can make changes. Sure beats a bigger company that loves to send 100’s of styles out each week.

  • JM

    kudos to biomogo thus far. from experience, shoes are a complex industry – from raw material to material suppliers (all sorts) to prodcution factories to brand and to consumer… not to mention a slew of other mass producing industries (ie. cars or cell phones).

    what’s good, is that collectivley most companies seem to be thinking about green or sustainablity but some really do more about it than thinking. like this biomogo from brooks or patagonia and their recycling program.

    question : how do we know that biomogo shoes go to a land fill or not ? most trash in the US just goes to incinertators and we don’t have a say … additionally, what happens to the TPU welding, poly/nylon air mesh, PU synthetic, carbon rubber or other materials in this biodegrading test ? Does biomogo help them degrade quicker.

    By now means is it perfect but it’s a run in the right direction.

    PS , i’m going to get my ‘green issue’ of the latest RW. I just saw it the other day.

  • Great questions, JM! I forwarded your post over to Derek Campbell, our BioMoGo expert who was featured in the Runners World article. Here was his response:

    “In 1994, the EPA formed the Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. LMOP Team Leader Brian Guzzone said since methane is both a pollutant greenhouse gas and a source of energy, it offers a good opportunity to reduce greenhouse emissions and provide energy. In 2005, there were 396 operational landfill gas projects in the United States, Guzzone said. According to the EPA Web site, two-thirds of the current projects are being used to generate electricity, producing approximately nine billion kilowatt-hours per year. (http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/05/25/landfill.gas/index.html)BioMoGo accelerates this process, making it even more profitable

    About 50 percent of all of the waste that we generate as a society today is put into municipal solid waste landfills, Guzzone said. That’s 150 million tons per year. The national recycling rate is usually estimated around 15-20%, leaving about 30% for incineration. The GoodHuman.com estimates 80% of trash is landfilled nationwide, 10% recycled and 10% incinerated. http://www.thegoodhuman.com/2007/03/20/how-much-trash-gets-thrown-away-each/. My guess is somewhere between these 2 estimates: about 20% gets incinerated. Some communities obviously push one or other of these options more heavily, which may be where the person’s comments come from. Germany is the only large, industrialized country that incinerates most of their trash.”

    As for your second question — BioMoGo does not help the other parts of the shoe degrade quicker; it’s benefit is just for the midsole. Of course Derek and his team are looking into how to make the rest of the shoe more eco-friendly too.

    Thanks for the great questions!