Environmental Sustainability

– Moving the Environment Forward –

At New Balance, we believe in treading lightly on limited resources, striving for zero waste in what we do and assessing the life cycle impacts of our products and activities.

Our environmental awareness and related commitment to pursuing sustainable paths for our products, facilities and operations are more recent extensions of our core values. We’ve embraced fundamental aspects of environmental sustainability – especially in our product design, materials selection and manufacturing processes – and are building on our experience of identifying and eliminating waste as a key tenet of our strategies going forward.

In the future, we hope to create products that are completely recoverable, create no waste, do not require the use of toxic substances, and have no adverse impact on the environment.

Key elements of our continuous environmental improvement process include:

  • Education on environmental issues in product design, development and manufacturing
  • Use of life cycle (LCA) based analysis to drive decision-making around commodity impacts and help inform materials selection
  • A focus on material choices in design via use of an internally developed, environmentally preferred materials (EPM) tool
  • Identification and control of hazardous substances to prevent their use in products and the manufacturing processes
  • Waste reduction in manufacturing
  • Improved packaging using EPMs

Each of these initiatives contributes to improvements in product quality, manufacturing efficiency, cost reduction and — most importantly — our impact on the planet. Currently, we’re making important progress on the major challenge of implementing measurement systems across our organization that will provide timely information for benchmarking.

Restricted Substances

Historically, the footwear industry has used a wide variety of chemical substances to make its products, some of which—heavy metals, solvents, phthalates and certain dyes—are considered to be hazardous. To address potential hazards before they enter factories making New Balance products, we have established a team that reviews all chemicals considered for possible use. If a chemical is reviewed and found to be inappropriate for use, it is sent to the New Balance Product Chemistry Team, which is responsible for maintaining and implementing our Restricted Substances Manual (RSM) for our domestic and global factories. The Restricted Substances program is designed to protect the environment of the host communities where we make our products, the health of workers in the manufacturing facilities, consumer health and our brand integrity. It is applied to all footwear, apparel and equipment that New Balance makes (both in our own factories and our contract factories) as well as to all products made by our licensees. Key elements of our monitoring process include an RS Manual that suppliers are required to acknowledge and implement, auditing to determine compliance, a corrective action process to bring about full compliance and the sharing of chemical management best practices.
Key benefits of the RS program include:
    • All New Balance footwear is PVC free
    • Toluene is not allowed in raw materials and manufacturing
  • Suppliers bring alternative materials to New Balance and institute continuous improvement programs for chemical safety
Certain chemicals in the RSM are prohibited in all New Balance brand footwear, apparel and accessories. The RSM also specifies maximum levels for certain other chemicals, testing requirements and methods that our suppliers must use to ensure they are complying with New Balance specifications. The program addresses more than 380 chemicals and incorporates legislation and regulations covering the U.S., Europe, Japan, China and other countries, along with California's Proposition 65. RSL Updates RS Manual

Our commitment extends beyond
what we make and how we make it.

In April 2013, New Balance’s continued commitment to demonstrating
responsible leadership was once again reaffirmed by NB joining the
Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Group.

Sustainable Apparel Coalition

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) is a broad coalition of brands encompassing over 40% of the global apparel & footwear supply chain.
HIGG INDEX 2.0 The Higg Index is a framework for facilities and brands to measure environmental impacts across their supply chain as well as within their own products.
As a founding member, New Balance joined the coalition in 2010 as work began on the environmental indexes. Shortly thereafter, the SAC announced it would adopt the OIA Eco Index in conjunction with the Materials Sustainability Index. This adoption resulted in the Higg Index: a tool that provides a framework for making better choices that benefit the entire
industry. The eventual goal is to be able to have consumer-facing communication around these impacts in a standard way. New Balance has worked the last three years to build a holistic approach to evaluating environmental impacts across the apparel and footwear supply chains. This groundbreaking work has resulted in the public release of the Higg Index 2.0 suite of tools and the industry’s commitment to tackling its environmental challenges. The product module is under construction and is scheduled for release sometime in early 2015. New Balance will continue to work with the SAC to help drive the sustainability initiatives across the apparel & footwear industries. Learn more about the Sustainable Apparel Coalition


New Balance’s product packaging consists of a single sheet designed shoebox that integrates the top lid with the base, thus creating a single-piece box.

Inside the box, we use paper wrapping tissue to separate and protect the shoes, and paper toe stuffing tissue to protect the shoe tip. Our shoeboxes are made from 100% recycled paper consisting of pre- and post-consumer pulp, and are 100% recyclable. Our master shipping cartons are also made from pre- and post-consumer pulp with approximately 44% virgin fiber. All inks are soy-based.

At New Balance, we are continuously working on innovative ways to reduce our overall packaging footprint. Our short and long-term goals are to reduce our overall packaging weight, and to reduce and/or eliminate unnecessary packaging where opportunity exists. New Balance strives to be the industry leader in creating sustainable packaging now and in the future.


The US Congress enacted the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which requires manufacturers to certify specific safety requirements of children’s products. New Balance has established an internal program to ensure CPSIA compliance. To search for a certificate of compliance, for footwear and apparel, visit


An exploration of our history. A blueprint for our future. Since its inception, New Balance has worked to give back to the communities in which we operate and create an environment that our associates value. Learn how New Balance is moving people forward today and what you can do to get involved. Download PDF