Seven ways circularity is transforming Nike, Inc.

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As Nike works to craft a system, it outlined seven ways a circular vision is transforming the business and what happens next on its path to a more circular future.

The Beaverton, Oregon-based company says its circular vision is rooted in bold science-based goals, built on more than 30 years of exploring ways to reduce environmental impact.

Its ultimate goal is to develop an industrial value chain with no beginning or end, closing the loop from product design to raw material stage to manufacturing, shipping, retailing and rework. some products.

Within the system, waste will be a primary source of new materials, virgin materials are bio-based, and the manufacturing process itself creates zero carbon emissions.

Additionally, the product is created not only with zero impact on the environment, its creation utilizes waste that would have gone to landfill, and each item is designed with the future in mind, anticipating how it will be broken or turned into something. something always precious. at the end of its useful life.

For Nike to achieve this goal, he believes that designing for circularity is essential. That means finding better materials and rethinking design methods, manufacturing processes and how Nike collects products from athletes for refurbishment or recycling, the company explains.

“By focusing on progress, not perfection, and making better choices, we’re seizing the chance to reconsider our craft in the hope that it forms a wave of change,” said John Hoke, Chief Design Officer at Nike. .

Noel Kinder, Nike’s Chief Sustainability Officer, adds: “We galvanize and empower everyone to make smarter change, and we build diverse and inclusive teams to drive relentless innovation for athletes and the planet. . This step-by-step holistic approach is the key to continuing to move towards a circular future. And the resulting creative innovations are in full swing.

Nike cites seven examples:

Inspire an ethic that protects the planet
Move to Zero is Nike’s journey to zero carbon and zero waste to help protect the future of sport. Nike says it is fundamental to realizing its vision of circularity and strives not only to minimize its environmental footprint as a company, but also to maximize opportunities for positive impact as a brand. Move to Zero includes commitments such as eliminating single-use plastics, investing in new materials development programs, creating logistics centers powered by renewable energy.

Enable a revolutionary performance product while reducing the impact on the planet
Across its brands, Nike says its teams implement creative solutions at every level, considering trims, dyeing techniques, pattern effectiveness and material sourcing. Such steps led to launches such as the Space Hippie collection, made from reclaimed materials from factory floors, and the Air Zoom Alphafly Next Nature, Nike’s flagship running shoe transformed to be its sneaker. most concerned about sustainability. Nike has scaled these developments with the new Move to Zero 2022 collections, a treasure trove of what Nike calls “iconic” products, all made with sustainable materials and methods.

Extend the life of materials and products
Nike is piloting programs and expanding existing ones around the world to enable consumers to recycle and refurbish their products. All are essential to achieving Nike’s 2025 goal of donating, recycling or refurbishing ten times as many products as in 2020 and working towards its circular end goal.

Scaling innovative sustainable materials
2022 marks the 30th anniversary of Nike Grind, which is made up of manufacturing scrap and end-of-life footwear used to make Nike products in addition to playgrounds and running tracks. In Nike’s 2021 fiscal year, Nike Grind recycled more than 750,000 pounds of waste rubber.

Transforming Nike’s Supply Chain
Nike says working with its suppliers has accelerated its journey towards a circular future. It builds trust, built over decades, has encouraged partners to adopt new recycling standards and regularly create new approaches to solving recycling problems. “When you think about the scale of the manufacturing partners we work with, they’re huge companies in their own right,” says Marine Graham, vice president of responsible sourcing and manufacturing. “The cool thing is that we’re actually changing the way our suppliers do business, not just for their Nike portfolio but for their entire business.

Initiate dialogue within the global design community
In 2019, Nike created the binder “Circularity: guiding the future of design” and nikecirculardesign.co to engage with designers and challenge them to create for a circular future. The hope is that the playbook inspires thoughtful choices that move the world forward, Nike says.

Partnership across the industry
Nike says all of this work is amplified when it partners with other apparel and footwear companies. As a collective, he says, companies can more effectively call for new recycling innovations or explain the value of recycled raw materials, like Nike Grind, to governments who may restrict waste transportation and are unsafe. that the recycled raw materials are usable.

What’s next for Nike

“We are only limited by the rate at which we and our industry can dream up materials to go further,” says Kinder. “How soon can we develop additional alternatives to leather, alternatives to cotton? How can we work with our key supply chain partners to create and enforce manufacturing methods that facilitate low-carbon or energy-efficient production? Currently, materials represent 70% of our carbon footprint. This is one of the reasons we are investing heavily in the materials research and innovation space – we know this is the biggest unlock for us to achieve our goals.

Nike also has final numbers from its fiscal year 2021 to show its success, noting that recycled polyester now accounts for 38% of total polyester usage in Nike footwear, double what was used in the fiscal year. 2020. The company also recycled more than 55% of its manufacturing waste into footwear and apparel, thanks to increased demand from local recycling markets and global Nike Grind customers.

Although it recognizes that there are “real and countless” challenges to building a circular system and economy, Nike believes that driving towards a truly circular system is its role and responsibility.

“Driven by the ingenuity and courage of Nike teams, the company is committed to continuing to move towards this circular future,” he says.

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