A Step Closer to Zero


The Nike Refurbished program is part of the company’s efforts to recycle its products through various means in order to reduce its carbon emissions and waste. This involves two main methods, namely, the refurbishment and resale of old sneakers and the recycling of those which can’t be restored. This comes at a time where brands the world over are becoming increasingly concerned with sustainability and racing to develop innovations to establish themselves as the greenest in their industries. Nike, it seems, is no exception to this growing trend.

To accomplish its goals of reducing waste and carbon emissions, Nike Refurbished encourages consumers to return rather than dispose of their worn Nike sneakers. Nike gives consumers a 60-day window in which to return their sneakers to participating stores. Upon their return, each sneaker is carefully inspected and then meticulously and lovingly refurbished by hand using different products and tools. Once they have been restored to as good a condition as possible, they are classified into three different grades based on the kind of state they are in. The three grades are “Like New”, “Gently Worn”, and “Cosmetically Flawed”.

“Like New” indicates that the shoes are in a near-perfect condition with no signs of wear or blemishes.

“Gently Worn” refers to used shoes which are still in great condition, displaying only minor signs of wear or slight cosmetic flaws.

“Cosmetically Flawed” indicates that a shoe has little or no visible signs of wear but possesses some superficial imperfections such as stains or discolouration.

Once classified, the shoes are priced according to their condition grade and type of footwear before being repackaged and displayed in a special section of participating stores to be resold. The packaging includes details on the type of shoes within, its condition grade, and other information. In line with spreading the message of sustainability and educating consumers on how they can do their part, the boxes even include a QR code which customers can scan to learn more about Nike’s Move to Zero.

Apart from preaching sustainability, the inclusion of crucial details on the packaging also shows Nike’s commitment to brand transparency. With this initiative it emphasises just how much Nike has come since its shadowy days of utilising sweatshops even as it claimed to celebrate the human spirit.

Even if the returned footwear can’t be restored and resold under Nike Refurbished, the brand works with their community partner to donate those which have been gently worn, benefitting the less fortunate in society and giving these old shoes a new lease of life. In cases where the returned shoes are in too dire a condition to be resold, the shoes are recycled into the brand’s proprietary Nike Grind materials and used in the manufacture of new Nike products. They are even used by Nike’s partner companies to fabricate a wide range of products such as floor underlayers, running tracks, walkways and more.

Pigalle Duperré Basketball Court in Paris, France, with surfaces made using Nike Grind materials.

Nike has announced its goals of a 70% cut in carbon emissions by 2025. The brand has also indicated a desire to develop ways to reuse 10 times more waste from its finished products. With this latest initiative, it seems that Nike is heading down the right path in pursuit of greener production. Currently, there are 15 Nike retailers across the US which are confirmed to be a part of Nike Refurbished, though there are plans to bring more stores on board. TO find a Nike retailer taking part in this program, check out their store list here.

All images courtesy of Nike.



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