Nike's Sustainability Efforts Range From Space Hippie Sneakers to Bio-Jet Fuel, Says CSO

September 26, 2020
Fresh off of a strong earnings report, Nike is riding high. While the sportswear brand reported online sales have been strong, which sent the company's stock soaring earlier this week, it also noted that consumers have been particularly interested in its commitment to sustainability.
The athletic apparel giant has overhauled a number of its products and practices in order to reduce its carbon footprint so consumers can feel and look good while simultaneously protecting the environment, Noel Kinder, Nike's chief sustainability officer, told Cheddar.
"[About a year ago] we set our science-based targets, which put Nike in line with the Paris Climate Accord, to stay within that 1.5 centigrade goal that we all have as a planet and as a human race," Kinder said.
Nike introduced the Space Hippie, which quickly became a fan favorite and glorified sneakerhead essential, in its effort to reduce waste. In production since 2017, the Space Hippie line is created from at least 90 percent of recycled parts of Nike's Vaporfly. 
Other products created from recycled materials include the 2020 NBA playoff jerseys, which were made from 100 percent recycled polyester, Kinder said.
Nike's effort to reduce its carbon footprint isn't just limited to the product line. Partnerships with suppliers and shipping companies also afford Nike the opportunity to expand efforts to reach zero carbon emissions.
"We actually have a pilot program with UPS right now that will go live in October to use bio-jet fuel to support some of the shipments that we send via air. And in its purest form, that fuel reduces the carbon footprint by 80 percent," Kinder explained. 
While the pandemic has forced a majority of Nike's sales online, the in-store experience is also being revamped as the company looks to include all aspects of the business in its carbon-reduction goals. Among the items up for change: the brand's infamous orange shopping bag will be swapped out for a paper bag.
"This is a journey that we've been on for about a year and a half now to ensure that we responsibly transition out of those bags. And single-use plastics is a really big issue," Kinder said.
The company will also move away from providing paper receipts. 
Nike's continued success, according to Kinder, particularly as conditions around the world constantly change, will depend on its ability to adapt and remain innovative.
"We're looking to scale the learnings that we've gained through products like Space Hippie — the most recent, kind of crazy experimental design that we put out there — and really start to proliferate those things so that our entire product lines start to adopt those technologies," he said.
Nike's current strategy, according to Kinder, has it on pace to reduce its overall carbon footprint by 2030.
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