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Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshot

Nike Jumps On Upcycling Bandwagon With New Shoe Packaging


Nike's new shoe packaging is made from 100 percent post-consumer waste, including milk and orange juice containers and coffee lids. The shoe boxes are made from a single process of polypropylene with no added chemicals.

Nike partnered with the Taiwanese company Miniwiz to create the packaging. In addition to being made from recycled materials, the boxes feature a modular design with an interlocking component that allows them to be stacked for either display or storage.

“These are all intentional features and qualities which revolve around the intent of every Miniwiz product — reducing the impact on the environment in every way it can,” Arthur Huang, CEO of Miniwiz, said in a statement. “In this case, we’re adding features and efficiency to an existing product (shoe boxes) and by re-using non-virgin materials in a sustainable and responsible way.”
The shoe packaging can be used as a backpack. And the shoe it's built to support, the NikeLab Air Max 1 Royal, is made from the company's Flyknit material. As Nike explains on its website, Flyknit is “precision-engineered stitch by stitch to create targeted zones of stretch and support for adaptive performance.” As a result, the material reduces waste sent to landfill by millions of pounds.

“We love Flynit as a technology,” Huang said. “It gives designers a new canvas to create cool, while lowering environmental impact. We want to be associated with that and are glad that we are a part of this revolution.”

In its latest sustainable business report, Nike said it envisions a “transition from linear to circular business models and a world that demands closed-loop products – designed with better materials, made with fewer resources and assembled to allow easy reuse in new products.”

Achieving that will require “up-front product design, with materials reclaimed throughout the manufacturing process and at the end of a product’s life,” Nike concluded in its report. And the company is doing just that. For example, its leftover production materials are finding new life in shoes, athletic tracks and tennis courts. The ultimate goal is to “accelerate system-level change."

Most plastic packaging is used only once. And a whopping 95 percent of the value of plastic packaging material, or $80 billion to $120 billion annually, is lost to the economy, according to a report released last year by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. And over 8 million tons of plastic waste is lost annually to the world's oceans each year.

Some companies are working to address the problem by designing packaging made from recycled ocean plastic. Back in 2012, Method released a hand soap in a bottle made from recycled ocean plastic and post-consumer recycled plastic.

And last fall, Adidas launched a running shoe and soccer jerseys made from ocean plastic Parley for the Oceans recovered in coastal areas of the Maldives. Adidas hopes to make a million pairs of shoes using ocean plastic this year, and its “ultimate ambition is to eliminate virgin plastic from our supply chain,” said Eric Liedtke, an Adidas Group executive board member responsible for global brands. The company’s 2017 goal would mean that at least 11 million bottles would be retrieved from coastal areas by the Parley Global Clean-up Network and turned into sportswear.

Procter and Gamble announced in January that its Head and Shoulders brand would produce a shampoo bottle made from up to 25 percent recycled beach plastic. It was the world’s first shampoo bottle made from beach plastic. P&G also announced in January that by the end of 2018 over half a million bottles a year will include up to 25 percent post-consumer recycled plastic.

Meanwhile, in the electronics sector, Dell announced the industry’s first packaging trays made with 25 percent recycled ocean plastic in February. The packaging is part of a pilot program that supports the company’s goal to achieve 100 percent sustainable packaging by 2020.

Image credit: Nike

Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshot

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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