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With Nike’s significant focus on a sustainable future, one might wonder; can such a large manufacturing company really be sustainable? With the abundance of materials and energy they use in production each day, along with the emissions that come from transporting their products across the world, the idea of Nike being sustainable seems unachievable. However, Nike is proving that not only are they able to do this, but they can be an industry leader in the process as well.
With a zero-waste priority, their idea of a circular future is driving their sustainability efforts. A circular future where nothing is wasted, and every product or material is reused. To create a circular future, we need to shift to a circular economy, which is an economy where everything created remains in use. A circular future must begin with circular design, in which each product is created with its end of life in mind.
“Limited resources demand we rethink the ways in which we live. We envision a future where waste doesn’t exist, and materials can be used and reused to their highest potential—that’s why we created a Circular Design Guide.”
This idea of a circular future requires collaboration across industries, policy makers, businesses and consumers. This won’t be a small feat, but who better to advocate for it than such a large, established company like Nike?
Nike has implemented several practices to kick start these initiatives. Of the many ideas they’ve implemented, there is one that specifically relates to Clearline’s new end of life initiative. Nike has set up drop boxes at each of their retail stores where customers can drop off their used shoes to be collected and then repurposed into something new. This initiative was originally started in 2008, however since 1990 Nike has collected 28 million shoes to be recycled. Once collected from the Reuse-A-Shoe bins in the US, the products are sent to a recycling facility in Memphis, TN where they are combined with Nike’s overall manufacturing waste to create Nike Grind material.
Once processed through the centre, three materials are produced:
But Nike’s not stopping there. Their circular innovation has come up with ideas in which to use their recycled materials such as conformable mattresses for children with neurodevelopment disorders, street safety products, rock climbing walls and modular furniture.
Nike’s sustainable mission moves far beyond their Grind materials. They’ve committed a substantial amount of research to include recycled materials in the majority of their products such as;
It’ll be interesting to see how Nike can shape our society’s sustainable future, and if we can really implement a circular economy. But If companies like Nike and Clearline Technologies can do it, why can’t everyone?