Fresh Air: How Nike Uses Technology to Push for Sustainability
Of all the myriad facts and figures about Nike that we’ve written about, this latest snippet, while not the most exciting, is perhaps the most important: over 75% of all of the brand’s product contains some recycled material.
Aside from the reuse of manufacturing waste — which the brand puts into everything from yarns to basketballs to running surfaces — some of the Swoosh’s iconic innovations, such as Air and Flyknit, are designed from the ground up with sustainability. Flyknit, for instance, uses a sophisticated computational knitting process to reduce the waste associated with traditional panelled shoe design by over 60%.
Meanwhile, Air technology — perhaps the tech most synonymous with Nike, and which the brand has granted its own Air Manufacturing Innovation facilities in Oregon and Missouri — has come a long way since its introduction in 1979, with advances in both manufacturing and sustainability pushing the limits of what can be achieved with as little impact as possible. Its latest Air innovations, the Air Max 270 and Air Vapormax sole units, use 70% and 75% recycled materials respectively, with the latter allowing Nike to remove the need for a foam midsole, further reducing waste and environmental impact.
To cap it all off, the brand is on track to move towards using 100% renewable energy across all its United States operations, and worldwide by 2025. Impressive stuff, and reassuring to see from a brand with the global scale and reach that Nike has. adidas has also followed suit with its own similar sustainability programme, including its long-running collaboration with environmental organisation Parley for the Oceans, making shoes and apparel from recycled ocean plastics, so whichever side you choose, you can be assured that your footwear addiction isn’t as destructive as you might have thought.