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August 27, 2021

Nike to tackle carbon footprint with AirCarbon

US sportswear giant Nike, Inc is to explore the use of a carbon-negative biomaterial in a variety of applications as part of its work to reduce its carbon footprint.

By Beth Wright

Nike has partnered with advanced biotechnology firm Newlight Technologies on the move and will explore its AirCarbon carbon-negative biomaterial which is produced by microorganisms from the ocean.

AirCarbon is currently used in fashion applications as a carbon-negative substitute to plastic and leather, including for eyewear, wallets, and bags.

The aim is to advance Nike’s mission to create products that are better for athletes and the planet.

“AirCarbon offers an opportunity to further reduce our impact on the planet,” explains Nike chief sustainability officer Noel Kinder. “Materials account for 70% of Nike’s total carbon footprint, and we’re accelerating our efforts and exploring new opportunities in this space because, in the race against climate change, we can’t wait for solutions, we have to work together to create them.”

Newlight uses naturally occurring microorganisms from the ocean that eat air and greenhouse gas and convert it inside of their cells into AirCarbon: an energy storage material, also known as polyhydroxybutyrate (or PHB), that is about 40% oxygen from air and 60% carbon from greenhouse gas by weight.

AirCarbon is certified carbon-negative by SCS Global Services, resulting in a net reduction in CO2e in the atmosphere through production, and can be melted into a range of forms, from fibre and sheet to solid shapes.

It is being used to replace plastic in industrial segments ranging from foodware to fashion. Newlight’s mission is to help end plastic pollution and climate change by replacing plastic with AirCarbon, creating global-scale economic and environmental value.

“Our mission is change at scale, and there are few better partners in the world than Nike to help achieve that,” says Newlight CEO, Mark Herrema. “We are excited to explore how AirCarbon can help Nike decarbonise its products and achieve its ambitious carbon-reduction goals.”

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