Nike Embraces Circular Economy


Nike claims 71% of its footwear is made with materials recycled from its own manufacturing process. In 2015, the brand recovered 92% of its waste.

Nike’s sustainability report includes efforts to achieve zero-waste in its supply chain, invest in technologies to drive 100% renewable energy within its factories, and reduce toxic chemical output from dying processes from entering the environment.

“By creating low-impact and regenerative materials, we can continue to move toward a high-performance, closed-loop model that uses reclaimed materials from the start,” Mark Parker, Nike’s president and CEO, wrote in an opening letter to the report. “Coupled with smarter designs, we can create products that maximize performance, lighten our environmental impact and can be disassembled and easily reused.”

Recycled materials are derived from old shoes, plastic bottles and factory scraps branded Nike Grind. Through a “slice-and-grind” technique, shoes are split into three sections – separating the rubber from the outsole, foam from the midsole and fiber from the upper sole – before they are put through a grinder and transformed into fabric pellets for future use in another pair of shoes, a track court, a playground or another athletic padding surface.

Parker goes on to share Nike’s vision of accomplishing their goals by the fiscal year 2020, achieved in part by completely eliminating footwear manufacturing waste from landfills or incineration.

A focus on up-front product design processes appears to drive Nike’s approach to improved product sustainability and materials sourcing. Nearly 81% of all of Nike’s products across every category will be reviewed for sustainability scalability by 2020. The significance of implementing sustainability measurements and metrics across the total brand will push teams to choose better materials based on an internal sustainability index, improve efficiency patterns and ultimately decrease the number of materials used to create a single product.

“We envision a transition from linear to circular business models and a world that demands closed-loop products – designed with better materials, made with fewer resources and assembled to allow easy reuse in new products.[…] We are re-imagining waste streams as value streams, and already our designers have access to a palette of more than 29 high-performance materials made from our manufacturing waste.”

Source: Triple Pundit