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April 28, 2022

Nike unveils “shoes you can take apart” in bid to boost circularity

Nike is debuting two pairs of shoes that it says can be taken apart and recycled as part of its quest to move closer to circularity with products that yield no waste.

By Laura Husband

Nike’s Improvise; Scavenge; Protect; Adapt team (ISPA) have created two new shoes that will perform but can also be taken apart for recycling and donation as part of its quest to boost circularity.

Nike introduces shoes with strong circularity credentials

The Nike ISPA Link shoe, which is arriving in June has a futuristic silhouette that features three interlocking modules connected with glue that can be taken apart for recycling and donation at Nike Stores.

The Nike ISPA Link Axis is not arriving until early 2023, however it aims to build on and advance the sustainable features of the ISPA Link. It has a 100% recycled polyester Flyknit upper that’s engineered to fit over the outsole (compared to the traditional cut-and-sew method used for the Link). Plus its 100% recycled TPU tooling is achieved by using scrap airbag material.

Nike explains the innovation behind both shoes will need to be scaled in order for them to make a real impact but plans are underway for the shoes to reach a wider audience.

Nike highlights these two new innovations mark a shift-change in terms of achieving circularity for shoes, trainers and other types of footwear. It says a good shoe is flexible and durable, however traditionally designers would use glue and other bonding elements, which makes it almost impossible to disassemble to recycle.

Nike also points out that recycling shoes usually requires shredding, an energy-intensive process that limits how the recycled materials can be used. However, creating a shoe that can be taken apart would reduce the carbon footprint of the product and open up new possibilities for its life cycle.

Nike’s VP, Catalyst Footwear Product Design Darryl Matthews says: “Our hope is that these ideas and aesthetics become normalised, accelerating our ability to imagine how shoes will continue to evolve in the future.”

The shoes are being launched as part of Nike’s aim to embrace circular design principles. This includes the 10 principles outlined in the company’s Circular Design Guide, which is an open-source workbook that shares learnings and insights with the larger design community.

Nike recently outlined seven ways in which a circular vision transforms the company and what’s next on its path to a more circular future.

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