At Nike, sustainability is in our DNA.
In 1977, Nike created its first print ad campaign featuring a bold tagline: “There is no finish line.” Along with our never-ending pursuit to inspire athletes* everywhere, this statement rings true for our belief in sustainability and creating a better world for all.
Driven by this belief that the best is yet to come, here are seven ways that Nike continues to reduce our impact, protect the planet and help build a more circular future through innovation:
In 2019, Nike launched Move to Zero, our journey toward zero carbon and zero waste to help protect the planet and create a better future for sport. We understand that the world can’t wait for solutions, we have to create them. In the race against climate change we’re determined to do our part.
What does this mean for Nike? We’re pursuing bold, science-based goals to aggressively reduce our carbon footprint. We’re also using innovation to create products that provide better performance and are better for the environment [read on]. We envision a more circular future and are also innovating to reduce waste – from our design studios, to manufacturing and distribution centers. And because climate action is a team sport, we’re partnering across our industry and beyond to improve our collective impact.
We’re optimistic that together we can move the world forward through the power of sport.
For more than two decades, Nike has been focused on scaling environmentally preferred materials and innovating lower impact products. This Earth Day, Nike launched new features on Nike.com that make it easier to search, shop and learn about the sustainable materials used in our products.
Nike.com now includes improved navigation and badging on product walls and on product display pages that clearly identify which products are made with recycled or organic content. Apparel with the badge is made from at least 50 percent sustainable materials, either recycled material or organic cotton, by fabric weight, excluding trims.
For each product included in the program, consumers will see a new tray feature, with the header How This Was Made, that includes a description of the benefits of the material, including carbon and waste reductions compared to using conventional materials.
For more than two decades, Nike has been focused on scaling environmentally preferred materials and innovating lower impact products. We develop products with sustainability in mind and innovate new materials because we’re dedicated to finding ways to help solve today’s problems for a better tomorrow. Here are a few examples:
Since 2010, more than 7.5 billion plastic bottles have been diverted from landfills and waterways and transformed into recycled polyester for Nike footwear and apparel.
Our standoff singlet debuted at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, marking our first-ever product made with recycled polyester. Fast forward to the 2019 Women’s World Cup, where all 14 Nike national teams wore recycled polyester kits.
Today, 76% of Nike brand footwear and apparel products use some recycled materials, from footwear uppers to recycled jerseys.
In 2012, Nike introduced Flyknit with the Flyknit racer. Inspired by feedback from runners, Nike engineered a fabric that fits like a sock, with the support and durability for sport. Since then the technology has scaled across multiple Nike categories from training, running, basketball, soccer and sportswear. It also extends into our apparel with the Nike FE/NOM Flyknit Sports Bra.
The Flyknit process reduces manufacturing-process waste by about 60% over traditional equivalent materials. In FY19, Nike produced more than 23 million pairs of Flyknit shoes, leveraging recycled plastic content equivalent to more than 31 million plastic bottles.
Since its launch in 2012, we have produced more than 100 million pairs of Flyknit shoes, avoiding over 10 million pounds of waste since inception.
Launched in 2017, Flyleather is an engineered leather material made with at least 50% recycled leather fiber and is created by binding reclaimed leather fibers together with an innovative water powered process.
Flyleather diverts leather that would otherwise be lost in the manufacturing process to produce a material with a lower carbon footprint than conventional leather.
The Nike Flyleather collection designed in collaboration with Steven Harrington included Cortez and Air Force 1 sneaker styles.
Conventional cotton farming can involve significant environmental impact, which is why in 1998 we began our sustainable cotton program with a 3% organic cotton blend in some of our U.S.-made shirts.
Today, 86% of our cotton is organic, recycled, or Better Cotton*. We are leading the way with 90% of apparel and socks converting to more sustainable cotton, bringing us closer to our 100% target.
*Better Cotton Initiative (BCI)
Our commitment to help protect the planet extends far beyond our products. It’s part of our legacy.
In 2006, Nike WHQ’s Ken Griffey Jr. building was one of 13 buildings in the world deemed LEED Certified by the US Green Building Council for efficient environmental design.
Today, environmentally-conscious design of our spaces can be seen across the business from distribution centers such as The Court, located in Ham, Belgium and powered by 100% fossil-free renewable energy sources, to the grind materials used in our Nike House of Innovation stores. To date, more than 30% of NIKE global stores are deemed LEED Certified. We have also set a target to use renewable energy to power 100% of our owned or operated facilities globally by the end of FY25, and were proud to reach 100% in North America this year.
Nike has been committed to reducing waste and working toward a circular future for decades, and there is no better example of that than the Nike Grind program.
It all started in 1993 with Nike employee Steve Potter, who envisioned shredding old Nike shoes and turning them into reusable materials. The idea was tested with a new basketball court in Wilsonville, Oregon and the following year Nike donated its first Nike Grind surface to the Brooklyn Navy Yard Boys & Girls Club.
The program has evolved to incorporate scrap materials from the factory floors, turning them into premium materials – from sport surfaces to new products. In 2019 alone, Nike, its contract factories, and Nike Grind customer companies facilitated the recovery of approximately 87 million pounds of post-industrial footwear scrap materials and transformed those into new products.
Additionally, over 17 million pounds of post-industrial “waste” materials were recycled right back into NIKE footwear, avoiding disposal and the need to source virgin materials. Grind can be found in Nike products including fleece apparel, many of our trims, from buttons to zipper pulls, and the ZoomX Vista Grind.
Re-use is a vital step in reducing our environmental impact. Space Hippie is Nike’s lowest carbon footprint shoe ever and was born out of constraints – taking what we have and reimagining it.
Launching later this year, Space Hippie is a radical expression of circular design, transforming scrap material from our factory floors into new materials.
Every detail of the four initial Space Hippie silhouettes, from material choices to methods of make to packaging, was chosen with consideration for its environmental impact.
In FY19, 99.9% of footwear manufacturing waste was recycled by contract factories or converted to energy.
Partnering with initiatives to protect and preserve the future of our planet is a priority for Nike, which is why we are continuously looking to collaborate with leaders that are committed to making a difference.
In October 2019, Nike also partnered with the Ocean Conservancy to launch the Arctic Shipping Corporate Pledge, committing to not intentionally allow our products to be shipped on vessels via any Arctic sea route.
Nike is also a founding member of the Sustainability Air Freight Alliance, a group formed in 2019 with a focus on driving improvements and transparency in data within the air freight industry. We are also a founding member of Clean Cargo, a leadership initiative dedicated to reducing the environmental impacts of global good transportation and promoting responsible shipping.
For more information on Nike’s commitment to celebrating Earth Day everyday, read our executive summary of our FY19 impact report here.