Havaianas puts foot forward towards sustainability

Thong footwear brand's GM shares the customer impetus driving its latest business partnership and brand efforts

Five years ago, Havaianas Australia general manager, Tom Nolan, would have said maybe one out of 10 of the people calling into his company’s contact centre would have been asking about recycling the company’s iconic rubber footwear.

“In the last two years, it is about seven out of 10,” Nolan tells CMO. “The percentage has gone through the roof. Australians now, and especially the younger generations, are just so focused on this topic.”

Like many brands, Havaianas has found itself challenged by customers who count sustainability equal to other brand attributes such as design and quality. For Nolan, that change has required innovative thinking, as the natural rubber used in Havaianas’ products does not lend itself to curb side recycling collection.

“We have always had a recycling option, but we have never held ourselves as an ecofriendly and sustainable brand because we produce a product that doesn’t break down all that well,” Nolan says. “But what we do hang our hat on is that they are made from rubber, and they are very long lasting. The quality is there so when people buy a pair, we hope they last a lot longer than your plastic version.”

Knowing he needed a better answer, however, the importer has now entered a partnership with specialist recycling company, TerraCycle, to turn old Havaianas into soft fall matting for use in children’s playgrounds.

“We like to partner with people that are the best in their field, and that is what we think TerraCycle is,” Nolan says. “We are the experts in rubber thongs and they are the experts in recycling and reusing consumer goods.”

The free program enables Havaianas owners to either send their worn-out footwear back to the company or drop them into a dedicated recycling bin. So far, 38 bins have been distributed to retailers around Australia. The goal is eventually seeing them in around a quarter of the 800 stores where Havaianas are sold.

“This is very much a soft launch to work out the logistics of how quickly those bins fill, how quickly they can get back to us and how quickly we can get new bins out,” Nolan says.

Aside from the bins themselves, Havaianas is also spreading word of the program via its website and social channels. The hope is that with an estimated one in 10 Australians owning a pair of ‘Havis’, the program will divert five tonnes of old footwear from landfill.

Another question still to be addressed, however, is the impact owners of other brands might have on the program.

“Havaianas are pretty special in that we actually use natural rubber,” Nolan says. “A lot of other surf brands and discount department store thongs are made up of EVA, which is a foam. So at the moment we are purely just collecting our brand. But if someone throws a pair of something else in there it still goes to TerraCycle and TerraCycle will find a home for it and recycle it properly anyway. And hopefully they will buy Havaianas to replace them.”

While Nolan says the parent company has not traditionally trumpeted its green credentials, that is changing too, as it brings new products to market. The company is producing sneakers in Brazil made with 70 per cent recycled materials, while the traditional ‘Havis’ thongs also getting a green makeover.

“There will be several new product lines that are using minimum 50 to 60 percent recycled rubber, to the point of trying to get to a 100 per cent recycled product,” Nolan says.

“I remember being a young kid working in shops and selling thongs and it was all about new colours and the brand and this and that,” he adds. “Now, speaking to people, I have never seen it [environmental interest] at this level.

“If we do a product night, or any time we are talking directly to staff our consumers, it is almost the first question they are asking.”

Don’t miss out on the wealth of insight and content provided by CMO A/NZ and sign up to our weekly CMO Digest newsletters and information services here.  

You can also follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page


Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

More Videos

More Brand Posts



CMO's top 10 martech stories for the week - 9 June

Read more

Great e-commerce article!

Vadim Frost

CMO’s State of CX Leadership 2022 report finds the CX striving to align to business outcomes

Read more

Are you searching something related to Lottery and Lottery App then Agnito Technologies can be a help for you Agnito comes out as a true ...


The Lottery Office CEO details journey into next-gen cross-channel campaign orchestration

Read more

Thorough testing and quality assurance are required for a bug-free Lottery Platform. I'm looking forward to dependability.

Ella Hall

The Lottery Office CEO details journey into next-gen cross-channel campaign orchestration

Read more

Great Sharing thoughts.It is really helps to define marketing strategies. After all good digital marketing plan leads to brand awareness...

Paul F

Driving digital marketing effectiveness

Read more

Blog Posts

Marketing prowess versus the enigma of the metaverse

Flash back to the classic film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Television-obsessed Mike insists on becoming the first person to be ‘sent by Wonkavision’, dematerialising on one end, pixel by pixel, and materialising in another space. His cinematic dreams are realised thanks to rash decisions as he is shrunken down to fit the digital universe, followed by a trip to the taffy puller to return to normal size.

Liz Miller

VP, Constellation Research

Why Excellent Leadership Begins with Vertical Growth

Why is it there is no shortage of leadership development materials, yet outstanding leadership is so rare? Despite having access to so many leadership principles, tools, systems and processes, why is it so hard to develop and improve as a leader?

Michael Bunting

Author, leadership expert

More than money talks in sports sponsorship

As a nation united by sport, brands are beginning to learn money alone won’t talk without aligned values and action. If recent events with major leagues and their players have shown us anything, it’s the next generation of athletes are standing by what they believe in – and they won’t let their values be superseded by money.

Simone Waugh

Managing Director, Publicis Queensland

Sign in