Community News

Member Spotlight: Crocs, Inc.

Published: December 15, 2021

Hastings Guise Fieldfisher LLP London, United Kingdom Brands for a Better Society Committee

Heike Bhonsle

Heike Bhonsle, Crocs, Inc. (USA)

As a fashion business that manufactures and ships its brand of foam clogs all over the world, sustainability is at the heart of the future of Crocs, Inc. (Colorado, USA).

“Our goal is to reduce the carbon footprint of our products by half and reduce our emissions to net zero by 2030,” said Heike Bhonsle, who has led the company’s global anticounterfeiting activities for almost a decade. “Crocs already has a low carbon footprint at 3.94 kilograms of carbon dioxide for each pair of CROCS Classic clogs. That’s lower than many other iconic footwear products.”

The number is precise. Crocs takes its impact seriously and uses the Higg Product Module 1.0, which assesses a product’s environmental sustainability impact. Every assessment is verified by independent third parties.

Crocs is working to achieve this goal by focusing on four pillars, the first of which is sustainable ingredients. “It begins with Croslite™, our proprietary material. By the end of 2021, Croslite™ will be 100 percent vegan and made from a new bio-based formulation that significantly reduces carbon use,” explained Ms. Bhonsle. The material is developed in collaboration with Dow Chemicals and uses its Ecolibrium™ technology, which allows the reuse of sustainably sourced waste and by-products.

As well as improving the sustainability of Croslite™ itself, Crocs is also focusing on reducing energy use and waste from its manufacturing processes. Resource use is the second of the four pillars: controlling energy use and waste. “We already recycle 45% of our waste material,” said Ms. Bhonsle. “However, the goal is to get that number even higher. We’re also looking at transitioning most of our manufacturing onto renewable energy over time.”

The third pillar is packaging. “Our shoes will be worn and loved for many years; we hope,” Ms. Bhonsle said. “But packaging? The customer throws that out in five minutes. It’s an immediate waste.”

Therefore, she continued, “We really do everything we can to minimize the packaging involved when we distribute and sell our shoes. In 2020, 80 percent of our shoes were sold without shoe boxes, and where we do still need packaging, we are doing our best to find sustainable alternatives.”

The final pillar is the lifecycle of the shoe itself. “The longer our shoes remain in use, and out of landfills, the happier we are. So, we make sure that unsold shoes go to those in need around the world,” Ms. Bhonsle said.

In 2020, the company donated 90,000 pairs of unsold shoes “so that they wouldn’t go to waste.” Crocs is also building opportunities for its customers to donate and recycle their end-of-life shoes.

Ms. Bhonsle’s own work includes coordinating anticounterfeiting activities and operating sustainably where possible.

“Obviously, we would prefer not to see any counterfeit CROCS products at all, but they are out there, and they do need to be destroyed. In the bad old days, businesses used to routinely incinerate counterfeits,” she said. “However, because our counterfeits are usually plastic based, we have been able to find ways to reuse them. For example, seized products can be shredded and recycled. It’s a much better solution. You see, even IP lawyers can contribute!”

So, does sustainability matter for the CROCS brand? “Absolutely!” declared Ms. Bhonsle. “Our customers love their CROCS. We want them to feel ‘comfortable in their own shoes,’ and confident that, when they choose our shoes, they are making a choice that is sustainable now—because our shoes already have a low carbon footprint—and, in the future, as we work toward reducing our impact even further. That’s why we like to say that green comes in every color!”

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of this article, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

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