Our priority is zero waste, period. Our vision is a circular future in which the very concept of waste doesn’t even exist. We are eliminating waste wherever we can, beginning by designing waste out of our products and optimizing our manufacturing processes. We know that making these key design and process shifts are critical to us achieving our goal of cutting our environmental impact in half.
Waste is generated across our value chain—from agricultural waste associated with harvesting raw materials to the manufacturing waste created in the process of putting the finishing touches on our products to the waste created when you’re done with our products and throw them away.
What are we doing about it?
We are working toward a circular future, where everything is reused and nothing is wasted. A circular economy—also known as a “cradle to cradle” cycle—is one in which every material input in the system remains in use.
We know the best way to reduce waste is by designing waste out of our products from the beginning. We are also committed to sending zero waste to landfill and incineration (without energy recovery).
No single company, organization or government can tackle the challenge of creating a circular future alone. It will demand collaboration across industry, civil society, policymakers, businesses and consumers to deliver the resources and capabilities that will accelerate systems-level change.
We are working with the Circular Fibres Initiative, a program launched by EMF and key industry stakeholders to build a circular economy for textiles, starting with clothing.
Product Creation and Design
The best way to reduce waste is to design it out of products from the start. We have created a set of tools that help our product creation teams make better decisions to eliminate waste.
Our Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) considers and scores the energy, water and chemicals used to make materials, as well as the waste generated in the process. This materials score feeds our product scores in the the Footwear Sustainability Index (FSI) and the Apparel Sustainability Index (ASI). Both indices also evaluate and score the waste generated in manufacturing, based on the design of the product. Together, these scores provide an environmental profile that our product creation teams can use throughout the design and development process.
New and Better Materials & Processes
We’re developing new materials and manufacturing processes that generate less waste. Flyknit technology creates footwear uppers directly from yarn rather than cut them from fabric. All the core polyester yarn for Flyknit shoes is now 100% recycled polyester. To date, we have diverted more than 4 billion plastic bottles from landfills by using recycled polyester.
In 2017, we launched a new “super material,” called Flyleather, made with at least 50% recycled leather fiber. Flyleather is both sustainable and high-performing, with the potential to be as game-changing as Nike Flyknit. During the typical leather manufacturing process, up to 15% of leather hide falls to the tannery floor and often ends up in a landfill. We gather the discarded leather scraps from the tannery floor and turn them into fibers that are combined and fused into one material.
Nike Grind is a suite of premium, recycled and regenerated materials we use to reduce waste and deliver performance products ranging from new Nike footwear and apparel to sports and play surfaces made by our industry-leading partners. There are over 10,000 surfaces around the world made from our surplus manufacturing materials such as rubber, foam, fiber, leather and textile blends.
Nike has been supplying Nike Grind to premium surface manufacturers since 1992. In FY16 and FY17, revenues from the sale of Nike Grind sports and play surfaces funded additional sustainable innovations at Nike.
For more than ten years, we’ve been designing waste out of our processes to make more efficient and more sustainable products. For us, scraps are valuable resources. We believe every ounce of material sourced to make Nike products should be put to good use.
That’s why we’re eliminating waste to landfill and incineration. We’re focused particularly on footwear, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of Nike manufacturing waste. We’re proud to say that today, more than half of footwear factory waste is recycled. We do this by separating waste for recycling and using waste management centers that consolidate, process and sell the scrap material to other businesses.
In our global distribution centers, the most prevalent waste is corrugated cardboard from boxes used for shipping. We have implemented a program to reuse this cardboard for outbound shipments to customers to help eliminate sending waste to landfill and incineration. We’re also piloting alternative packaging solutions, such as reusable shipping totes.
In our own offices, we are also eliminating the waste we send to landfill and incineration. We compost, recycle and reduce waste through programs such as our reusable dishware program (which eliminates to-go boxes) at our World Headquarters in Oregon.