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The FDRA’s Guide on How to Make Sustainable Footwear

In an effort to make the footwear industry more sustainable, the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA) created a guide that provides basic Environmentally Preferred Material (EPM) thresholds for shoe companies and set benchmarks so brands will know if they are exceeding industry averages. The FDRA is a business and trade association with more than 700 brands and retailers as members.

An Operational Guide on Making Better Material Choices

shoe soles

With feedback from suppliers and dozens of shoe companies, the FDRA developed the EPM Guide to cover an “average shoe” to assist companies just starting out on their sustainability efforts and those who have started but still need guidance on how to move forward. As the footwear industry progresses, the FDRA will also update the EPM guide with higher percentages and targets.

While the Guide is not a binding requirement for FDRA members, it does incentivize them to adopt these best practices by discussing certifications available for products that meet requirements in line with the EPM Guide. Throughout the Guide, the FDRA emphasizes the materials’ minimum thresholds of biobased carbon content as well as the recycled content for two independent certifications offered by the Textile Exchange – the Global Recycled Standard (GRS) and the Recycled Claim Standard (RCS).

Biobased Content Thresholds of Shoe Materials

EPM Guide Version 1.0 includes biobased content thresholds for these materials. The biobased carbon measurements must be done by an independent laboratory using the ASTM D6866 test method.

EPM threshold:
Minimum footwear industry requirements
EPM Advanced Targets: 
Green North Star Goals (by 2035)
Foams – EVA>10% bio-based content
>22% bio-based content
*USDA BioPreferred Program Certified
Foams – PU / TPE / SEBS
Synthetic Leather (PU)
Thermoplastic – BPU / TPU / PP / TPR / Synthetic Rubber
Plastic inserts in packaging materials25% bio-based content>50% bio-based content

About the FDRA

The FDRA aims to provide its members with clear and simple best practices for reducing environmental footprints associated with various materials commonly used in footwear products. The organization believes that providing and explaining these clear steps to its members will help the industry move toward greater sustainability. 

With an active sustainability program and working group, more than 100 shoe companies join the FDRA’s monthly events to learn the best practices on reducing their environmental footprint. For more details, please visit


Footwear Environmentally Preferred Material (EPM) Guide Version 1.0 (September 2021)
Textile Exchange Recycled Claim Standard and Global Recycled Standard

Photo credit: Pixabay

Beta Analytic is not affiliated with the FDRA, the Textile Exchange, or the USDA BioPreferred Program.
The ISO 17025-accredited lab welcomes inquiries on ASTM D6866 biobased content testing.
Please use this contact form to inquire on fees and turnaround time.

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This entry was posted on Monday, April 17th, 2023 and is filed under Biobased Products .