The materials used in our products – from growing crops to manufacturing finished goods – have the greatest environmental impact in the entire product lifecycle, so reducing this impact is among the greatest levers we have for improving our overall environmental performance. We have worked for a number of years to create sustainability scoring tools and indices that give our product creation teams the information they need to make better decisions about the materials they use and the processes they adopt. Two key levers help improve a product’s score: reducing waste by improving pattern efficiency and using more sustainable materials.
We use more than 16,000 materials in our products each year, and a single pair of shoes may contain up to 30 materials. The Nike Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) helps our teams choose better materials from better vendors by allowing them to compare the environmental impacts of 57,000 different materials, supplied by more than 700 vendors.
The MSI provides scores based on a variety of relevant environmental criteria and forms the basis for how we measure the sustainability of products. The index takes into account the energy, water and chemicals used to make materials, as well as waste generation. It also rewards material suppliers for participating in sustainability programs. By leveraging the MSI, our teams can choose materials with verifiably lighter environmental footprints.
The materials score feeds our product indices – the Footwear Sustainability Index (FSI) and the Apparel Sustainability Index (ASI). These indices provide a way for our product creation teams to measure the complete environmental profile of each product and make better choices in planning, designing and developing our products. The materials score from the MSI accounts for more than 50 percent of the score for both footwear and apparel, which helps teams understand that materials choices impact much more than just the shoe. The MSI also helps teams understand how to improve the sustainability scores of products through using better materials, such as cotton that is recycled, organic or Better Cotton Initiative-certified, or materials that require fewer chemicals or less energy in manufacturing.