May 4, 2021

Environmental performance indicators (KPIs) are the primary mechanism for demonstrating how effectively a company achieves its environmental objectives.

In the current environment, companies are confronted with the constant need to adapt to new market demands.
A growing number of companies have assumed that acting in an environmentally responsible manner is more than a legal obligation, it positively affects the success of their business. Improving environmental performance has become part of corporate strategy.

The definition of strategic objectives in the environmental area must be supported by a set of indicators that allow to assess the impact of the implemented measures and to check whether the objectives are being achieved.

The definition of indicators, also known as KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), allows companies to evaluate their performance in the environmental area. On the other hand, the measurement and analysis of indicators allow the reporting of what is measured, assigning responsibilities, monitoring and evaluation, and triggering improvement actions.

We list the following best practices in defining KPIs for environmental performance evaluation:

  • KPIs must be relevant
  • KPIs must be related to strategic objectives and environmental policy
  • KPIs must be measurable

When defining KPIs, consideration should be given to the measurability, which means that the best option is to choose a quantitative indicator.  Defining qualitative indicators can lead to a subjective assessment. On the other hand, a very complex indicator or one that is difficult to measure is not appropriate, since the cost of obtaining it may make its operationalization unfeasible.

  • KPIs must be clear as to their calculation formula

The calculation formula must be defined and the sources of information for the data supporting the indicator must be identified.

  • KPIs must be comparable
  • KPIs must have environmental data in a comparable format, ensuring that performance can be evaluated over time and in comparison with other companies.
  • KPIs should be calculated and analysed with a defined frequency


The frequency with which KPIs are calculated and who is responsible for their calculation must be defined. Improvement action plans should emerge as a result of their analysis.

One of the supports used for the definition of KPIs in the area of environmental performance is the standard IS0 14031: Environmental management – Environmental performance evaluation – Guidelines.


The ISO 14031 standard distinguishes three types of environmental performance indicators:

1. Management Performance Indicators

Environmental performance indicators that provide information about management efforts to influence the environmental performance of the company.

Example of indicators:

  • % of employees with training in the environmental area
  • Degree of compliance with legislation
  • % of suppliers certified by ISO 14001
  • Return on investment in environmental improvement projects (e.g. replacement of lighting fixtures for LED)


2. Management Performance Indicators

Environmental performance indicators that provide information about the environmental performance of operations.

Example of indicators:

  • Cost of energy consumed per pair of shoes
  • VOC’s consumed per pair of shoes
  • Waste recovery rate1
  • Quantity of waste produced per pair of shoes


3. State of the Environment Indicators

These are indicators that reflect the environmental quality conditions in the area surrounding the company.

Example of indicators:

  • % concentration of selected nutrients in the soil adjacent to the company’s facilities
  • % concentration of a specific contaminant in groundwater or surface water

Concluding, we can say that environmental performance indicators (KPIs) are the main mechanism for demonstrating the effectiveness with which a company achieves its environmental objectives, so the methodology used in their definition and the accuracy used in their calculation are very important.

April 19, 2021

Industry 5.0 vs Industry 4.0

Initially launched by the German government to increase industrial competitiveness, Industry 4.0 was the theme of a 2016 study requested by the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE). This study aimed at highlighting interventions and establishing a set of measures to support the Member States in the transformation process required by the application of digital technologies and their connection with the goods and services offered to European citizens in their daily lives[1].

In January 2021, the European Commission published a report entitled Industry 5.0 – Towards a sustainable, human-centric and resilient European industry.[2] The pillars on which Industry 4.0 is based aim at Digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to increase production flexibility and efficiency. Instead, Industry 5.0 adds social equity and sustainability to the above, emphasising humanity, the long-term progress of society, the conservation and rational exploitation of the planet’s resources.

According to the report mentioned above, Industry 5.0 goes beyond producing goods and services just for profit. Referring to the past misinterpretation of the 4th industrial revolution, Elon Musk, CEO at TESLA, said that “humans should be part of the ongoing industrial revolution“. Thus, the 5th industrial revolution should have a broader purpose and three core elements: human-centricity, sustainability and resilience.

According to Frost & Sullivan[3] the Industry 5.0 will empower humans to the companies’ shop floor. While Industry 4.0 was focused on customisation and smart products, the upcoming period is dedicated to hyper customisation and more advanced experiences through interactive products, being intensive on delivering customer experience rather than consumer goods.



Future jobs require new skills

According to the Future Jobs report prepared by the World Economic Forum, 65% of primary school children will have professions that do not exist now. In the shift transition from Industry 4.0 to Industry 5.0, the emerging technologies will create new cross-functional job profiles for which employees will need advanced technical and digital skills.[1]

If Industry 4.0 is about piloting virtual reality, Artificial Intelligence, IoT devices, cyber systems, or cognitive computing on a larger or smaller scale, Industry 5.0 will actually be the stage where these tools will be implemented at each level manufacturing company. Human employees and digital “performers” as the industrial robots are will share everyday working tasks across various manufacturing technologies. However, interpersonal communication skills and communication with intelligent machines will become essential in the new era of Industry 5.0.

Footwear companies are interested in gaining competitive advantages that allow them to use real-time information from various actors on a sustainable supply chain and streamline their production systems, business models, technologies&equipment and employees. Apart from operative digitalisation, sales on e-commerce platforms enriched with virtual try-ons powered by augmented reality and after sales services, such as the recovery of out-of-use products to reintroduce components or materials into the manufacturing process, are examples of business models to follow in a smart footwear factory.

After a very difficult 2020, the footwear industry has an opportunity to reset itself. According to the survey results recently published by World Footwear[2], the top three priorities for investment in footwear companies are digital communication, sustainability, and marketing.

A valuable study on the state of Industry 4.0 in the footwear industry was developed within the FEETIN 4.0 project[3]. According to this research, many footwear companies in Europe already recruit competent employees in mechatronics, communications, big data & analytics, interface design, robotics, 3D design, etc. Instead, there is a big gap between what the industry requires and what vocational education offers as competencies specific to Industry 4.0.  If we add to all these expectations the new needs for skills on human-centricity, sustainability and resilience required by the transition to Industry 5.0, we can say that this gap is deepening.



April 5, 2021

The fight against climate change and for sustainable practices is rapidly becoming a priority for society and all categories of stakeholders, including the European footwear industry. Governments, citizens and civil society organisations across the globe have initiated a change toward energy-efficient, decarbonised, and more circular economies. In the EU, rules and regulations are moving toward harmonization of concepts and methods that facilitate transparent information to consumers and compliance by all players. Sector-wide standards based on tangible numbers and clear labelling schemes are one example. Consumers are growing ever more concerned about the environmental impact of the products they purchase, and the market size of sustainable footwear products consequently keeps expanding, although the number of “green labels” and misused names creates some confusion. Plainly speaking, we all urgently need to speak the same language and use the same tools to identify which products are environmentally friendly, and the Product Environmental Footprint of a product can help achieve this common understanding.

Harmonisation of sustainability standards:  Product Environmental Footprint (PEF)

A Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) is a measure of the environmental performance of a good or service throughout its life-cycle that takes into account supply-chain activities (from the extraction of raw materials, through production and use, to final waste management). It is a method to model the environmental impacts of a product throughout its life-cycle.

The PEF was implemented through the adoption of the European Commission Recommendation on the use of common methods to measure and communicate the life cycle environmental performance of products and organisations and the Communication Building the Single Market for Green Products.[1]

The aim is to make it easier for consumers to recognise how environmentally friendly a product is and promote green products by making the environmental performance of products measurable and communicable according to a uniform procedure. At the moment, a company wishing to market its product as environmentally friendly in several EU Member States markets faces a confusing range of choices of methods and initiatives and this leads to additional testing costs for companies and confusion for consumers due to the many “green labels”. Simply put, the PEF allows for standardization and comparability of the environmental performance of products.

Market opportunities for sustainable companies

Recent consumer research from McKinsey & Co provides further evidence of the importance of sustainability as a market opportunity for companies and that COVID-19 has exacerbated the trend. Two-thirds of surveyed consumers state that since COVID-19 hit, it has become even more important to limit impacts on climate change.

It is also important to note that consumers are changing their behaviour accordingly: 57% of surveyed consumers have made significant changes to their lifestyles to lessen their environmental impact, and more than 60% report going out of their way to recycle and purchase products in environmentally friendly packaging.[1]

A greener footwear production, whether through waste reduction, more sustainable packaging practices, lower emissions or more transparency and traceability, is good and necessary for the planet but it represents as well a competitive advantage and a market opportunity for European footwear companies.

Eco-design principles to guide manufacturers in creating more sustainable footwear products

The partners of the EU-funded LIFE GreenShoes4All project are working on implementing a footwear PEF methodology to use in the development of green shoe footwear design products. For this purpose, they have defined an eco-design methodology and developed a public Eco-design Guide to help companies integrate environmental aspects in the design of new footwear concepts. It presents 10 different Eco-design strategies and associated practical applications that guide design strategies, material and components selection, production techniques, distribution and sale, and recycling.

Eco-design is a winning strategy for footwear SMEs. It brings economic benefits, by optimising the use of materials and energy, improves the image of the company or brand, results in more customer loyalty, and facilitates products compliance with increasingly stringent environmental legal requirements.

4 days ago

New article from our partners! How to assess environmental performance in companies? 🌿👞 Read the article from Ana Cristina Pereira from the Portuguese Footwear Technology Centre CTCP on our website! ... See MoreSee Less

1 week ago

Our partners TUIASI and Activ Ortopedic organise on 24- 28 May 2021 the national seminar titled Footwear for 21 Century - Design, Comfort and Sustainability.In perioada 24- 28 Mai organizam un seminar online cu tema Incaltamintea Secolului 21- Design , Comfort si Sustenabilitate. Seminarul se adreseaza specialistilor din firmele de incaltaminte si studentilor facultatii DIMA . Pentru a primi linkul de acces, va invitam sa va inregistrati pana la data de 20 Mai 2021 ... See MoreSee Less

1 week ago

🔴 The 2021 edition of the SciLED Newsletter is out! You can read it here: 🎓👠 Read about (1) the SciLED Knowledge Alliance of Higher Education institutions (2) our course material (the SciLED online Academy and the SciLED FabLab), and (3) our hands-on workshops that will soon take place in Greece, Spain, Romania and Portugal! Interested in participating in our activities? Contact us! 👍 ... See MoreSee Less

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