Posts tagged ‘Nike’
Textile Exchange, the global organization dedicated to promoting the use of organic cotton, just released its annual Global Sustainable Textile Market Report. According to the Report, organic cotton represented a $6.2 billion industry last year and stands to grow another 20 percent in 2012, ballooning to $7.4 billion.
Along with that forecast, the Report also published its list of the top 10 corporations using organic cotton. Just a quick glance reveals that the list is filled with industry-leading apparel companies who wield strong taste-making influence, from athletic brands like Nike and adidas to big box retailer Target or mall fashion brand Zara.
At the top of the list is Sweden’s H & M, which used more than 15,000 tons of organic cotton in 2010. According to CSR Product Manager Henrik Lampa, by creating demand for organic cotton, H & M is incentivizing cotton farmers to adopt sustainable cultivation practices.
Of course, there are many experts who think that cotton, as a crop, is too difficult to sustainably grow. Given that opinion, we won’t be surprised when next year’s edition of the Report begins to track the rise of organic cotton alternatives, such as flax and hemp.
A company’s journey to sustainability can be a long one….just ask Nike. The company is a leader in environmental design, and yet it has a long way to go to reach its sustainability goals.
At least Nike knows where it’s headed. It has a bold long term called the North Star. A key tool is known as Considered Design, where the goal is to design products that are fully closed loop: produced using the fewest possible materials and designed for easy disassembly, while allowing them to be recycled into new product or safely returned to nature at the end of their life.
Nike’s vision is not only bold, but well thought-out and comprehensive. Nike’s Considered Design index rewards designers who reduce waste, solvents and energy, and employ environmentally friendly materials.
Nike isn’t designing one line of products to be sustainable or green and then leaving the rest along. Instead, it’s applying a single set of design metrics to shoes, apparel and equipment and measuring its progress.
Considered Design is Nike’s ongoing commitment to design without compromise – either to performance or the planet. It is a continually progressing standard, applied every day to everything they do. By continually raising that standard, they envision a future where the shoes you wear today become the shoes, shirts or equipment you use tomorrow. This “closed loop” manufacturing process, where nothing is wasted and everything is kept in play, is not just wishful thinking, it’s the future.
A new coalition of some of the world’s biggest clothing brands, which together amount to around 60% of global apparel sales, has agreed to develop a new environmental hang-tag for clothing that will allow shoppers to immediately assess the environmental impact of their purchases. The news of a brand new ‘Sustainable Apparel Coalition’ was revealed by Yvon Chouinard, founder of outdoor brand Patagonia, in early November. His company has been working with the likes of Wal-Mart, C&A and Levi Strauss on the new project after a meeting at Wal-Mart where the idea was first raised. “We have been working with Wal-Mart to ‘green’ its business which has ultimately led to the formation of a new coalition of retailers and brands which make up between 50 – 60% of world clothing sales”, he said.
Non-disclosure agreements have already been signed and it’s expected that the European/US outdoor eco-index and Nike’s Considered Index Tool will be put at the disposal of the other non-outdoor brands involved in this ground-breaking project. The formation of the new coalition will be officially announced in January 2011.
Chouinard told Ecotextile News that the coalition also includes household names such as JC Penney, Nike, Gap, Coles and “many others” who are working towards “an eco-index for consumers so that they can instantly identify the sustainable credentials of a product”. He said the new consumer label project is expected to take two years to finalize and complete – a very ambitious time-scale. “The industry has decided to take this step in advance of government legislation”, Chouinard told us, “the brands wanted to take the initiative before governments did”.
The coalition is sure to have a revolutionary effect on the global textile supply chain and provides an interesting insight into current brand thinking but it also raises some concerns within the textile sector about how this new eco-textile label can be both policed and certified. “The opportunity for greenwashing is an obvious concern”, said one textile NGO, “they will need the involvement of credible, third-party organizations to help develop the new label system”. The brands will also have to map their entire supply chains – a huge undertaking on its own.
To ensure this project is transparent, Ecotextile News calls for the full engagement and involvement of the relevant NGO’s in the USA, Europe and Asia. In particular this includes the new Textile Exchange in the USA, the RITE Group in Europe and perhaps the SFBC in Hong Kong. Regional consumer protection organizations should also be engaged to ensure it actually delivers what it sets out to achieve.
~Reported by John Mowbray of Ecotextile News~
In an effort to further industry sustainability efforts, NIKE Inc.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 such as 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.
“This tool is about making it simple for designers to make the most sustainable choices right at the start of the product creation process. Over the past four years it has proved to be invaluable at Nike and has helped us create products with a higher sustainability standard,” said Hannah Jones, Vice President of Nike Sustainable Business and Innovation.
“By releasing the tool we want others to improve on it and we hope to inspire further collaboration to create global industry standards for a level playing field, encourage widespread industry adoption of sustainable design practices and have more sustainable products available for the consumer.”
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.
“Nike’s decision to open-source this design tool is a win-win because it leverages important intellectual capital to benefit an entire industry,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, a leading coalition of investors and environmental groups that works with companies like Nike to address sustainability challenges. “Whether for sneakers or cars, it is hugely important to integrate water, chemical, energy and waste considerations into all product design. If all apparel companies use this tool, the impacts could be breathtaking, from less-clogged landfills to expanding our sustainable material industries.”
Mike Barry, Head of Sustainability for Marks & Spencer, who has worked closely with Nike for several years on sustainability issues, said: “As a company committed to developing a sustainable business, we welcome this type of industry collaboration. The Nike tool will help apparel companies and retailers design more sustainable product. We firmly believe that sharing knowledge like this helps us all move towards a more sustainable future faster.”
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.
Crailar Organic Fibers are the building blocks for the first truly sustainable yarn in the apparel industry. Our fibers are processed through a patented enzymatic bath created in collaboration with the National Research Council of Canada. Prior to the bath, the fibers of up to a meter in length are cut to the desired staple length rivaling the very best long line cotton. These fibers then enter processing equipment which turns the straw-like fibers into soft, fluffy white fibers similar to organic cotton.
The result is a yarn with characteristics such as increased burst strength, enhanced wicking properties and reduced shrinkage that organic cotton simply can never achieve. As every step of the process can be certified organic, Crailar’s Organic Fiber has become the first truly sustainable yarn in the apparel industry.