Nike unveils “dismountable shoes” to reinforce circularity

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The improvisation of Nike; Retrieve; Protect; The Adapt (ISPA) team have created two new shoes that perform well but can also be taken apart for recycling and donation as part of their quest to boost circularity.

Nike introduces shoes with strong circularity credentials

The Nike ISPA Link shoe, arriving in June, has a futuristic silhouette that features three interlocking modules connected by glue that can be taken apart for recycling and donating at Nike stores.

The Nike ISPA Link axis will not arrive until early 2023, but it aims to develop and advance the sustainable features of the ISPA Link. It has a 100% recycled polyester Flyknit upper that is designed to fit over the outsole (vs. the traditional cut and sew method used for the Link). Plus, its 100% recycled TPU tooling is made using scrap airbag materials.

Nike explains that the innovation behind both shoes will need to be scaled for them to have any real impact, but plans are underway for the shoes to reach a wider audience.

Nike points out that these two new innovations mark a game-changer in terms of circularity for shoes, sneakers and other types of footwear. He says a good shoe is flexible and durable, but traditionally designers used glue and other binding elements, making it nearly impossible to take apart for recycling.

Nike also points out that recycling shoes typically requires shredding, an energy-intensive process that limits how recycled materials can be used. However, creating a removable shoe would reduce the carbon footprint of the product and open up new possibilities for its life cycle.

Darryl Matthews, Nike Vice President, Catalyst Footwear Product Design, says, “We hope these ideas and aesthetics will normalize, accelerating our ability to imagine how footwear will continue to evolve in the future.”

The shoes are released as part of Nike’s aim to embrace circular design principles. This includes the 10 principles outlined in the company’s Circular Design Guide, which is an open source manual that shares learnings and insights with the entire design community.

Nike recently outlined seven ways a circular vision is transforming the business and next steps on the path to a more circular future.

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