Innovation breakthroughs in our industry often involve the application of new chemical technologies and processes. Advances in product performance benefit the athlete, and we need to make sure we are using the right chemistries to achieve this. For both human health and the environment, we work to decrease the use and discharge of hazardous chemicals in our supply chain.
We remain committed to the aspirational goal of zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by the year 2020.
Our work focuses on:
- maintaining a world-class restricted substance program
- innovating and using better chemistries
- driving high-quality standards for wastewater
- tackling industry-wide challenges through partnership and collaboration
Read more about our approach to chemistry, targets and progress in our Sustainable Business Report
- In Product: We created a comprehensive Restricted Substances List (RSL) in 2001 to provide guidance to suppliers and have regularly updated it since then. The RSL is based on stringent worldwide legislation and regulation, and includes substances that may not be legislated but have been voluntarily restricted by Nike. We continue to monitor and update the list as new information becomes available.
- In Manufacturing: We have adopted a harmonized industry Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL). We are putting in place training programs and tools to expand adoption of the MRSL by our supply chain through efforts including:
- An updated chemicals management and restricted substances training program offered to Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers worldwide
- Working with the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) group to launch the ZDHC Chemical Registry for MRSL compliant formulations, and update the governance and methodology of the ZDHC MRSL, including how chemicals will be considered for addition
- Piloting new approaches: To drive greater visibility and accountability, in FY15 we undertook a Chemical Data Transparency pilot project in Taiwan, asking vendors to measure and share their performance against the ZDHC MRSL. We set out to prove that data and transparency of chemical inputs are key to unlocking the challenge of adopting better chemical inputs in our extended supply chain, and that the process of tracking chemical purchases would open conversations about the quality of chemicals between vendors and their suppliers. The project focused on data and measurement standards, and resulted in improved transparency regarding vendors’ chemical use, providing insights to us and to the industry.
Nike was founded on innovation, experimentation and drive to deliver the best performance. Over time, we’ve applied that innovation to develop environmentally preferred rubber formulations now used in more than 90% of our footwear, and water-based solvents that resulted in a decrease in use of solvents by more than 95%. We’ve also shared those innovations with the industry.
- Rewarding and incentivizing use of better chemistries. The indices we use to assess the sustainability of products provide scores based on a variety of relevant environmental criteria, including chemistry. Our scoring rewards material suppliers for using preferred chemistries.
- bluesign® - we’ve given our materials supply chain discounted access to the bluesign® bluefinder database, which lists more than 6,500 pre-screened certified textile chemical formulations, including dye systems ,and other auxiliary chemicals used in textile manufacturing. The bluesign® bluefinder provides our suppliers with an easy-to-use, rigorously vetted list of chemical products that helps them reduce the environmental impacts of their processes and our products.
- Addressing PFCs –Nike has historically used PFCs to provide performance benefits in some premium products for athletes, delivering the ability to both repel water and resist stains. We are working to eliminate use of PFCs as part of our effort to address human and environmental safety and promote better chemistry alternatives, while retaining needed performance. Some progress:
- At the end of 2014 we banned the use of C8 PFCs in Nike's supply chain.
- We continue to explore and carefully evaluate high-performance alternatives to the remaining PFCs in our products. Currently, more than 90% of our products are PFC free.
- We reward suppliers who adopt PFC-free alternatives in our Materials Sustainability Index (MSI).
A closed-loop future for water relies on resiliency, efficiency and smart management. We seek to build a water-resilient source base with world-class water efficiency and innovative wastewater management. We collaborate with material vendors, whose textile dyeing and finishing operations are particularly water-intensive, to expand the use of innovative approaches to water management, wastewater treatment and water recycling, and to improve transparency.
- Suppliers have reported their water use to us since 2001. Along with factories’ self-reported data, we also use the China Pollution Map Database, developed by the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE), to screen facilities in China for wastewater violations.
- Of the 811 facilities that actively report their wastewater to us in some capacity, 99% were compliant, at a minimum, with local regulations in FY15.
- Through the MSI, we incentivize participation, rewarding suppliers who perform well and continuously improve their performance on water management.
- Within the ZDHC, we are advancing an industry wastewater quality guideline that will provide much needed benchmarks to understand the state of progress towards reducing and eliminating discharge of hazardous chemicals in wastewater. Once the guideline is published, we plan to use it to advance supplier performance disclosure.
Industry alignment is critically important for shaping how chemicals are managed. The industry uses a wide range of materials, processed using many different chemicals across an extensive – and often shared – supply chain. Some key partnerships:
- Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) – a collaboration between member brands and associations to advance the textile and footwear supply chain toward zero discharge of hazardous chemicals. Established in 2011, the body has grown to 22 brands with a shared vision of widespread implementation of sustainable chemistry and best practices in the textile and footwear industries to protect consumers, workers and the environment.
- Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) – Comprising more than 170 leading apparel, footwear and home textile brands, retailers, suppliers, affiliates and academic institutions, SAC is a collaboration platform to drive harmonization and convergence of performance measurement standards. SAC has come a long way since 2009 when 14 companies, including NIKE, self-organized around the idea of developing an industry-standard framework for measuring social and environmental performance in the apparel and footwear value chain.That framework – the Higg Index – is pursuing updates that would provide a single industry standard for assessing chemicals management in facilities.
- Apparel and Footwear International RSL Management Group (AFIRM) – a collaboration of 23 leading brands across the apparel and footwear supply chains focused on advancing the global management of restricted substances in apparel and footwear, communicating information about RSL to the supply chain, and exchanging ideas for improving RSL management.
- LAUNCH – an open innovation platform designed to uncover breakthrough ideas in sustainable innovation industry wide, developed through a strategic partnership with NASA, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Department of State. LAUNCH has pursued challenges on chemistry, green chemistry, textiles, fabrics, water and closing the loop.
Preparing a closed-loop future
We envision a transition from linear to circular business models and a world that demands closed-loop products – designed with better materials, safer chemicals, made with fewer resources and assembled to allow easy reuse in new products. This will involve up-front product design, with materials reclaimed throughout the manufacturing process and at the end of a product’s life. Read more about our closed-loop future.