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Nike Sustainability Plan

10 Reasons Nike Is A Leader In Sustainability

By Shawn Lesser   

Nike, Inc., known by many as just Nike, is a major sportswear and sports equipment supplier that is based in the United States. It is one of the leading global suppliers of athletic shoes and sports apparel and equipment. Nike is known all over the globe for its Swoosh logo and the trademark phrase, “Just do it.” Nike is also known for counteracting the effects of climate change with a number of environmentally sustainable projects. It is one of the top climate-friendly companies because of its numerous initiatives, including programs, materials used to make new shoes, and shoe reuse programs. Here are just a few of the examples of what Nike is doing in terms of environmental sustainability initiatives.

1 ) Nike Grind Program. The Nike Grind Program is the Reuse-a-Shoe program created by the company in 1993. The objective of the Nike Grind Program is to aid in the elimination of waste as well as close the full loop in the product lifecycle by collecting post-consumer athletic shoes that do not contain metal, including ones that have been returned due to defects. Once the shoes are collected, the sneaker parts are then reused to create items like flooring for weight rooms and baseball fields, and so on. Currently, this program is available in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and Japan.

2 ) Environmentally Friendly Products. Nike is all about producing products that kick butt without actually kicking the environment’s butt. The belief is in creating superior athletic performance products while lowering environmental impact. For instance, the Nike’s Women’s Board Shorts are made from 100 percent recycled polyester which saves three plastic bottles from going to the landfill. In another example, Nike Zoom and Flywire technology use 100 percent green rubber along the outsole to eliminate a large number of toxic compounds – the only impact will be the shoe on the court.

3 ) Rethinking the Nike Box. The largest purchase Nike makes is in corrugated cardboard for shoeboxes and shipping. Therefore, to decrease waste associated with packaging, Nike has been looking for ways to redesign their box. The new shoe box uses 30 percent less material than the 1995 box and is the very first 100 percent recycled content box. The boxes first showed up in stores in 2011 and aided in saving approximately 200,000 trees. This new box is not only made from recycled materials and is recyclable, it is also much stronger and lighter than the previous box.

4 ) The GreenXchange. The GreenXchange is a partnership between Nike and a number of other companies, including Best Buy, Mountain Equipment Co-Op, and Creative Commons, to aid in the acceleration and scale of sustainability-based innovation through the mutual sharing of intellectual property assets. This can help in reducing the total costs associated with technology transfer and increase industry convergence.

5 ) Nike Partners with Companies to Reach Zero Discharge by year 2020. In November 2011, Nike along with H&M, Puma, Adidas, and other companies released a joint roadmap toward a zero discharge of hazardous chemicals throughout the supply chain by the year 2020. This ambitious plan sets a brand new standard in regards to environmental performance for the worldwide footwear and apparel industry. Commitments include, “Jointly communicating the mission of zero discharge of hazardous chemicals to all suppliers beginning immediately; conducting pilot projects at major, vertically integrated and materials suppliers between 2011 and 2013 to better understand scope of use and discharge of hazardous chemicals, [and] verifying that nine classes of hazardous or persistent chemicals are not currently used.”

6 ) Nike Aids in Creation of the Apparel Index. In March of 2011, Nike partnered with 30 retailers and manufacturers, including Target and Levi’s, to create an industry-wide index that will be used to evaluate the environmental impact of apparel products. Known as the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, and also includes a number of non-profit organizations, academic groups, and the Environmental Protection Agency, it looks “To reduce the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products sold around the world.” “The largest and most influential corporations in apparel and footwear together with leading environmental and social organizations have voluntarily engaged in this collective effort because they recognize the opportunity to get in front of the growing need to measure and manage the environmental and social impacts of their products,” said coalition chair Rick Ridgeway, the vice president of environmental programs at Patagonia.

7 ) Nike Considered. Nike Considered is a line of sustainable shoes created by Nike. It utilizes materials that are primarily found within two-hundred miles of a Nike Factory and reduces energy required for transportation, thereby decreasing the overall impact on climate change. It also reduces solvent use by over 80 percent when compared with other Nike products. All leather, for example, comes from a tannery known for recycling wastewater and it is dyed with vegetable based colors. Polyester and hemp are used to make the shoelaces and the woven sections. Nike Considered is part of the company’s larger effort to reduce levels of waste and eliminate the use of toxic substances, thereby lessening the environmental impact the company has.

8 ) Shrinking Carbon Dioxide Footprints. In 2010, Nike was able to lower its carbon dioxide emissions to its 2007 levels. Nike was able to do this through several ventures, including focusing on materials since this is where a lot of the carbon emissions were coming from, more investment into energy efficient as well as distributed energy products to reduce overall reliance on grid energy, and increase access to sources of renewable energy.

9 ) Nike Starts making Factories Energy Efficient. Since 2008, Nike has created an energy efficient project to reduce energy consumption within its manufacturing bases. Nike created a contract factory pilot program along with a blueprint that will be used to bring this project to other factories. This included installation of wireless monitoring devices throughout four factories in Vietnam and Japan to gain information on the total amount of energy used in the factory and where there are locations to reduce or even optimize the energy consumption.

10 ) Nike Creates Green Venture Capital Arm. In September of 2011, Nike created a sustainable venture capital arm to their company to aid in promoting green commerce and cutting costs. Known as the Sustainable Business and Innovation Lab, it backs startups that are focused on alternative energy and efficient approaches to manufacturing.

Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He can be reached at shawn@watershedcapital.com.

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