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How Skechers Is Cutting Waste From its Packaging

Mindful of its footwear’s footprint, California-based brand Skechers is putting a lid on packaging waste by transitioning away from plastic and towards recyclable materials.

Since 2016, Skechers has reduced the amount of plastic in its footwear packaging by 90 percent. Today, only 7 percent of the packaging is plastic, and all of the plastic used is recyclable.

“We’ve launched our sustainability efforts by prioritizing simple, practical solutions that can offer the greatest positive return on our planet—and feel that excessive waste is a global concern that can be drastically improved by making changes in our packaging methods,” said Kathy Kartalis, senior vice president of global product at Skechers. “Skechers shipped more than 188 million pairs of shoes last year alone, and with much of our packaging now converted to paper over plastic, we’ve achieved a long-term solution that we hope has positive repercussions worldwide.”

Almost all (93 percent) of Skechers-branded shoeboxes are fully recyclable, subject to local recycling guidelines in the more than 170 countries where the company’s products are available. Inside the box, 100 percent of foot forms and tissue paper can be recycled.

Given that Skechers has made the switch to paper-based foot forms and packaging for most of its 3,000 styles, there is the potential for other footwear brands to follow suit.

“This isn’t something we can advise on, but we feel that this approach can be used universally throughout the industry,” Kartalis said.

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In addition to managing waste with recyclable packaging, Skechers is also ensuring that its branded boxes are produced responsibly. Ninety-nine percent of the label’s footwear is packed in shoeboxes made from materials that meet the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard for sourcing. Skechers also uses soy- or water-based ink for all of its packaging, further reducing the environmental impact of its boxes.

Beyond its shoeboxes, Skechers’ factories use 100 percent recyclable master cartons. Meanwhile, the outbound shipping cartons used at distribution centers that handle 90 percent of Skechers’ business are made with at least 96 percent recycled content. Along with most of the shipping cartons being made of recycled materials, 100 percent of these containers are recyclable.

Packaging is just part of Skechers’ efforts to stay a step ahead when it comes to sustainability. The company has invested in green construction, with facilities that include energy- and water- efficient features such as solar panels, native landscaping and motion-sensing lights. The brand’s 1.8 million-square-foot LEED Gold certified North American distribution center is the largest facility with that designation in the Americas, and an upcoming expansion to Skechers’ corporate offices is designed to receive the same certification.

Skechers is also looking into additional ways to reduce its footprint throughout the supply chain and its retail network.

“We’re continually finding a balance between environmental solutions that are good for the planet, while also maintaining the practical needs of a business to satisfy price-conscious customers,” Kartalis said. “Green initiatives are not always the cheapest options, but fundamentally, we believe that our planet’s health needs to be a top priority, and that our waste reduction methods are promoting that philosophy.”

Sourcing Journal’s Sustaining Voices celebrates the efforts the apparel and footwear industry is making toward securing a more environmentally responsible future through creative innovations, scalable solutions and forward-thinking initiatives that are spinning intent into action.

See more of our Sustaining Voices honorees and their stories here.