Partner View: ECCO

This is an abbreviated transcript of the discussion between ECCO’s Chief Operating Officer Thomas Goegsig and Spinnova’s CEO Janne Poranen at the Financial Statements Bulletin Webcast on 24 February, 2022.

If you want to watch a recording of the webcast, this discussion starts from about 22 minutes into the recording.

Thomas Goegsig, can you outline ECCO’s strategy?

We’ve been in the game of footwear for around sixty years. Our entire business relies heavily on our values: care, excellence, heritage and innovation, everything fuelled by passion. This is very important to us and defines everything we do in sustainability.

If we’re talking about the environmental side of sustainability, we rely heavily on code of conduct in general, and this is something that was formulated more than 25 years ago. In this code of conduct, our ninth commitment states that ECCO aims to be a leader within environmental and health and safety aspects, and that we support sustainable developments, and this (the Respin collaboration) is a prime example.

If we then look into our business model, it really starts to materialize. ECCO owns and operates the entire value chain. This is unique in the footwear industry, so when everybody outsourced their production and responsibility in this regard in the nineties, early 2000, we invested heavily in our own systems.

Thomas Goegsig

Can you describe your sustainability efforts?

Our strategy definitely sits with us shouldering responsibility of not only producing our own products, we also produce and prime our own materials like leather, we own tanneries, we own shoe factories, and we bring it all the way to our end consumer through our own channels. We also have wholesale accounts and that whole network, but we bring everything from raw hides all the way up to the consumers. This is something we have nurtured and developed and finetuned over the sixty years of our lifespan so far, and this is something we will rely on going forward.

Lately,. we formulated some more tangible goals related to environmental sustainability, announced in our annual report in 2020, emphasizing that we put some ambitious targets to our operations. In 2024, we aim, and are well underway, to make our headquarters energy neutral. In 2026, we aim at a 90% recovery of all our waste streams in all our facilities and in 2028, we’re aiming for total energy neutrality through all our facilities and that means tanneries and shoe factories but also shops and everything we control. In 2030, we aim at a net zero water discharge. So when we are engaging with Spinnova and Respin, this is for a reason, and we are very excited about this journey, with great expectations.

How do you see our plans together going forward?

What we’re doing in futuristic, and that’s why we’re here; back to our core value of innovation, and also believing we are excellent in what we’re doing, and I think we share this with you. It’s real and we work actively already with the fibres, with the textiles.

For us, it’s quite interesting because we are inventing a completely new material, merging the best from leather and textile and eventually create a leather textile. This is also a challenge, because how do you categorize and define this material, but for us this is about closing the loop and extending the lifetime of our core and prime material, leather. We take some of the waste in our tanneries and turn it into completely new material. This tells us we have a strategy for end of life for leather products, even though they are highly durable. This technology is very interesting and also holds a lot of promise. This is based on some of the first trials and products we have managed to turn into shoes.

It’s also something we want to expand and finetune over this year.  We have quite robust plans on how to bring the first products through our chains during this year. We now have a pilot plant running in Finland and it’s what we all hoped and planned for, and it’s so nice to see this is materializing. That tells us this is something we will succeed with.

ECCO never just works on nice ideas, we want to bring them to life.

To read more on ECCO’s responsibility pop to their Group website!