Nike’s Environmental Design Tool: Sustainability from Football to the whole Industry

Hi everyone,
Back in March, I was pointing out Nike’s efforts to take ownership of sustainability in football. Indeed, for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, all Nike’s federations jerseys were made of 8 plastic bottles. Yesterday, the swoosh furthers its commitment to sustainability by releasing an environmental apparel design tool to the whole industry.

Yesterday, Nike released its Environmental Apparel Design Tool. Based on Nike’s Considered Design Index, the release of the tool aims to accelerate collaboration between companies, fast-track sustainable innovation and decrease the use of natural resources like oil and water. Designed and built by Nike over seven years with a six million dollar investment, the software-based Environmental Apparel Design Tool helps designers to make real time choices that decrease the environmental impacts of their work.

Recognizing the decline of natural resources and the need to move to a low-carbon economy, the tool is a practical way to rate how apparel designs score in reducing waste and increasing the use of environmentally preferred materials while allowing the designers to make real time adjustments. Nike is committed to open innovation and welcomes others building and improving on this tool.

In the last year alone, Nike doubled its use of recycled polyester, saving 82 million plastic bottles from landfill. If all apparel companies committed to converting one third of their polyester garments to recycled polyester, the demand for recycled polyester would be greater than the annual production of plastic bottles, diverting PET bottles from landfill.

In addition to the Environmental Apparel Design Tool, Nike will also be releasing its Footwear Design Tool, Material Assessment Tool and Water Assessment Tool in 2011.

These efforts come after Nike’s announcement earlier this year about the GreenXchange (GX), a Web-based marketplace where companies can collaborate and share intellectual property which can lead to new sustainability business models and innovation. Nike committed to placing more than 400 patents on GX for research, demonstrating its belief that the best way to stimulate sustainable innovation is through open innovation.


The sustainability component in the sports industry is crucial. Companies are more and more taking the “green route”, but they either don’t (or cannot) do enough, or they don’t support their initiatives with sufficient Marketing and advertising power. As I pointed out earlier, Nike used the 2010 World Cup platform to advertise their initiatives on green football kits.

Now they are extending this strategy to the whole industry with a engineered tool. As football is a major category within Nike, the 2011-2012 football clubs and federations kits shall feature the “green” component with a huge marketing buzz.

A significant initiative with a strong marketing is a powerful recipe. Obviously, the beaverton firm got the memo!

Karl Lusbec