7 Ways Nike Is Taking Action for a Better, More Circular Future

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:

1. Move to Zero

Building on decades of embedding sustainability across the company, 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. We’re partnering across our industry and beyond to accelerate our collective impact.

 

We’re optimistic that together we can move the world forward through the power of sport.

2. Showcasing Sustainable Design on Nike.com

For more than two decades, Nike has been focused on scaling environmentally preferred materials and innovating lower-impact products. In spring 2020, 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 to clearly identify which products are made with recycled or organic content. Apparel displaying the Nike Sunburst* is made from at least 50 percent sustainable materials, either recycled material or organic cotton, by fabric weight, excluding trims.

 

For each sustainably badged product, consumers will see a new 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.

 

Learn more at Nike News or head to Nike.com to check out the new features.

3. Scaling Our Use of Sustainable Materials

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:

Recycled Polyester

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 first-ever product made with recycled plastic bottles debuted in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Fast forward to the 2019 Women’s World Cup, where all 14 Nike national teams wore recycled polyester kits made from between 12 and 18 plastic bottles.

 

Today, 76 percent of Nike brand footwear and apparel products use some recycled materials, from footwear uppers to recycled jerseys.

Flyknit

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. The Flyknit process reduces manufacturing-process waste by about 60 percent over traditional equivalent materials. In FY19, Nike leveraged recycled plastic content equivalent to more than 31 million plastic bottles in Flyknit shoes.

 

Since its launch in 2012, the sustainability properties of flyknit shoes has diverted more than 10 million pounds of waste. The technology has since 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.

Flyleather

Launched in 2017, Flyleather is an engineered leather material made with at least 50 percent 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

Sustainable Cotton

Conventional cotton farming can have a significant environmental impact, which is why in 1998 we began our sustainable cotton program. Today, 86 percent of our cotton is organic, recycled, or Better Cotton*. We are leading the way with 90 percent of apparel and socks using more sustainable cotton, bringing us closer to our 100 percent target.

 

*Better Cotton Initiative (BCI)

4. Our Spaces & Operations

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 U.S. 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 percent fossil-free renewable energy sources, to the grind materials used in our Nike House of Innovation stores. To date, more than 30 percent of Nike retail stores globally are deemed LEED Certified. We have also set a target to power 100 percent of our owned or operated facilities globally with renewable energy by the end of FY25, and were proud to reach 100 percent in North America this year.

5. Nike Grind Program

Nike has been committed to reducing waste and working toward a circular future for decades, and the Nike Grind program is a great example of this.

 

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.

6. Designing for the Future

With a rallying cry to help , the charge to envision a better world has inspired a steady progression of ambitious benchmarks and more radical products, as exemplified by increasingly more sustainable collections from Nike, Jordan, and Converse.

 

With a creative implementation of circular design principles in its varied elements, our  Nike Air VaporMax 2020 Flyknit is made with at least 50 percent recycled content by weight.

 

We know re-use is a vital step in reducing our environmental impact. Space Hippie, Nike’s lowest carbon footprint shoe ever, was born out of constraints – taking what we have and reimagining it.

 

In FY19, 99.9 percent of footwear manufacturing waste was recycled by contract factories or converted to energy.

7. Collaborating to Preserve Our Planet

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.

 

To offset the carbon emissions generated in the outbound shipment of all Nike.com purchases in the United States, Nike has partnered with EFM, a real asset investment manager that invests in natural climate solutions.

 

In 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.

 

The Arctic plays an essential role in regulating global temperatures and is currently experiencing accelerated effects of climate crisis, warming at twice the rate of the rest of the globe. We understand this is one of the most vital ecosystems on the planet and are joined in this Pledge by Bestseller, Columbia, Gap Inc., H&M Group, Kering, Li & Fung, PVH Corp., and ocean carriers CMA CGM, Evergreen, Hapag-Lloyd and Mediterranean.

 

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 a more sustainable future, read our executive summary of our FY19 impact report here.

 

* The Sunburst was originally designed by Nike’s first employee Jeff Johnson in 1974. In 2019, with the intent of embodying the concept of circular design – and with the blessing of Jeff – Nike used the brand marker for Nike Sustainability. Today, it is exclusively the Move to Zero logo and denotes sustainable product on Nike.com.

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