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Nike's ReactX Foam: Sustainable footwear with impressive impact

Nike's ReactX Foam: Sustainable footwear with impressive impact

Nike, the iconic American lifestyle brand founded in 1964, has grown to become a global household name with a staggering revenue of nearly US$50.6 billion in 2023. However, Nike's vision extends beyond commercial success; the company is deeply committed to sustainability and reducing its environmental impact. We analysed Nike’s ‘Move to Zero’ pledge last year (here) and wanted to see what new technology and supply chain changes they have introduced to achieve their 2025 targets.

In pursuit of its net-zero goals, Nike has implemented various initiatives, including innovative materials like Nike Forward, Nike Flyknit, and Nike Flyleather. The latest addition to their sustainable material line-up is the ReactX foam, a revolutionary cushioning unit designed to reduce the carbon footprint and enhance performance. In this blog, we will explore Nike's remarkable sustainability efforts and how the ReactX foam contributes to the brand's journey towards a greener future.

Nike's Holistic Sustainability Approach

Nike's commitment to sustainability encompasses various aspects of its business. The brand has been actively working towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions and is on track to achieve a reduction of 0.5 million imperial tonnes by 2025. This reduction is achieved by increasing the use of environmentally preferred materials to 50% of all key materials, such as polyester, cotton, leather, and rubber. In FY22, Nike successfully reduced over 182,000 metric tonnes of emissions by incorporating 39% environmentally preferred materials in its products.

In their extended supply chain, Nike is making significant strides towards a zero-waste future. By 2025, the company aims to divert 100% of waste from landfills, with at least 80% being recycled back into Nike products and other goods. As of FY22, a commendable 97% of waste has already been diverted from landfills.

Additionally, Nike is taking proactive measures to conserve water resources. By 2025, the brand targets a 25% reduction in fresh water usage per kilogram in textile dyeing and finishing processes. Furthermore, to minimise the carbon footprint of its owned or operated facilities, Nike aims to achieve a 70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. As of FY22, they have already made impressive progress, achieving a 64% reduction.

Innovative Materials Leading the Way

Recognising that over 70% of a Nike product's carbon footprint comes from materials, the brand has been actively developing sustainable alternatives. Among these, Nike Forward stands out as an all-new material that is thinner and has a reduced carbon footprint of 75% on average compared to traditional knit.

Nike Flyknit is another revolutionary material engineered from recycled plastic bottles, resulting in an average of 60% less waste during footwear upper manufacturing than traditional methods. Similarly, Nike Flyleather, an eco-friendly alternative to traditional leather, is created by binding at least 50% recycled leather fibers with synthetic fibers using a water-powered process.

ReactX Foam: A Leap Towards Sustainability

The much-anticipated ReactX foam cushioning unit is the newest innovation in Nike's sustainable material lineup. After five years of meticulous research, development, and testing, this foam has emerged as a groundbreaking technology that not only enhances performance but also significantly reduces the carbon footprint. By using an injection process instead of traditional compression moulding, ReactX foam features in the new InfinityRN 4 road running trainers offers greater energy return, whilst lowering the midsole's carbon footprint by over 43%.

Embracing Sustainable Choices

Nike's dedication to sustainability goes beyond materials and technology. The company actively restricts the use of harmful chemicals and has committed to using 100% organic, recycled, or Better Cotton sourced through the Better Cotton Initiative since 2020. Moreover, Nike has made remarkable strides in reducing plastic waste, repurposing approximately one billion plastic bottles annually by incorporating recycled polyester into their products.

Nike's Vision for a Sustainable Future

Eric Sprunk, Nike's CEO, has emphasised the brand's commitment to creating products that customers perceive as superior, not just sustainable. By integrating the ReactX foam into their shoes and continuously developing sustainable materials, Nike strives to lead the industry in eco-friendly performance footwear.

"I'm not going to ask customers to accept sustainability because it's sustainable,” said Eric Sprunk, Nike’s CEO when the Nike Flyleather was launched. "They're going to say, 'This is better'. That's a great win. An ugly shoe designed for sustainability: that's no victory."

“We are always looking for ways to improve our products' carbon footprint,” says Noel Kinder, Nike’s Chief Sustainability Officer, regarding the new material launch. 

“This is our next step in that sustainability journey.”

The finish line

As one of the world's most recognised lifestyle brands, Nike sets an inspiring example for the industry with its sustainability journey. The impressive statistics highlighting reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and waste diversion showcase Nike's dedication to creating a greener future. The introduction of the ReactX foam in the InfinityRN 4 shoe marks yet another significant milestone in their pursuit of sustainable excellence. By embracing sustainability, Nike proves that fashion and function can coexist harmoniously, offering consumers superior products that leave a positive impact on the planet. As we eagerly await the launch of the InfinityRN 4 with ReactX foam, we can all take inspiration from Nike's remarkable efforts to create a more sustainable world, one eco-conscious step at a time.

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