Mario Moretti Polegato: from breathable footwear to pollution-free cars

Stories of Success

8:18 am

28 April 2020

“We know fashion, we know technology and we care about the climate.”

With this statement, Mario Moretti Polegato sums up the three guiding principles behind Geox, the company he set up in the mid-1990s after big players like Nike rejected his idea of using breathable membrane in the footwear industry. The group – based in Montebelluna (Treviso) – patented the technology and now sells tens of millions of pairs of shoes every year through 110 monobrand stores. But perhaps more importantly, Geox has become an example of how business can take care of the planet through a range of positive practices.

 

Vocation for sustainability

After studying agriculture, with a specialism in oenology, Mario Moretti Polegato initially went into the family agricultural business. But he had another calling – and soon he had come up with a new technology capable of producing breathable footwear. In 1995, he set up his own company, selecting the name Geox – a combination of the Greek word geo (a reference to Earth and nature) and the letter x (a nod to technology and research). From the very beginning, Moretti Polegato’s aim was to put people first, creating shoes that were not only beautiful, but comfortable and practical too.

 

“75% of our collections are made from sustainable materials and every year we reduce the environmental impact of our factories, offices and stores.”

 

Soon, the breathable shoe was joined by the breathable jacket, as Moretti Polegato’s commitment to the wellbeing of his customers and indeed the entire planet continued to grow. As Moretti Polegato explains, 75% of Geox’s collections are made from sustainable materials and every year the company reduces the environmental impact of its factories, offices and stores. The materials used are often either recyclable or recycled, thanks to extensive research and development efforts which the company funds with 2% of annual revenue.

But that’s not all. The company has also introduced a Code of Ethics and a Code of Conduct covering relations with employees and suppliers alike. The documents focus on three main areas: human capital, environmental protection and supply chain transparency. There are several practical measures included, such as bans on child and forced labour and discriminatory practices. Other measures include a minimum wage, the enforcement of the legal maximum number of working hours, including overtime, the creation of specific employee health and safety plans in accordance with regulations on the use of hazardous chemical substances, rules around waste disposal, water management and emissions, anti-corruption policies and independent audits.

 

The Formula E lab

Building on these efforts to reduce the environment impact of its activities, Geox has decided to go one step further by promoting the spread of electric cars. In fact, the company has been participating in the Formula E World Championship through its Geox Dragon team since 2018.

 

“There’s no more qualified brand to defend the right to clean air, to be able to breathe clearly and to live healthy, long lives. This is only possible if we reduce emissions and improve the air quality of our cities, our countries and the world. Each and every person and company can – and must – do their bit.”

 

Geox doesn’t just pursue environmental sustainability through worthy traditional campaigns – such as its support for the WWF’s efforts to protect giant pandas in China – but also through more unusual activities like Formula E, which is a breeding ground for cutting-edge research.

According to Moretti Polegato, Formula E “represents the perfect fusion of sport, environmental matters, research and innovation – all elements that are central to Geox’s development activities. There will be 60 million electric cars in the world by 2014 […]. Often sport is the only thing talked about when it comes to these competitions, but we want to bring a social vision to the table. Life isn’t only about the economy or competition – it’s not just about money, but common sense too. The new generations are demanding that we all do more to take better care of the environment. I believe that is both right and essential. We want to use our efforts to contribute to making that ecological transition a reality.”

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