Nike sprints ahead with lighter shoeboxes

Nike has revealed plans to lightweight its shoebox packaging in a bid to cut the weight of the cardboard by 10% and generate cost savings through less material use.

The lightweighting project forms part of the latest waste reduction drive across the company’s value chain, where it wants to reduce overall manufacturing waste by 10%, building on the 35% reduction already achieved in its footwear production operations over the past 10 years.

Overall, Nike’s main CSR aim going forward is to decouple profitable growth from constrained resources. Part of this is to “buy less” raw materials from its supply chain by focussing on waste reduction.

“Across our whole value chain, our single greatest waste item is corrugated cardboard. We’ve worked for years on reducing the overall content in our boxes and developed alternatives with various degrees of success for recyclability and performance,” a company statement said.

Nike’s shoeboxes have featured 100% recycled content since 1995 with 15% waste removed from their composition since 1995, but despite these advances the company admitted it has become “more and more difficult to make meaningful progress”.

A waste assessment carried out in 2006 revealed that the key areas of waste generation in the company’s value chain stemmed from product packaging (32%), manufacturing (26%) and shipping/packaging (32%).

The company now intends to step up its zero waste drive by working with contracted finished-goods manufacturers to assist them in reducing material use.

This will be achieved by optimising manufacturing processes, segregating waste at the source, measuring waste types and volumes, and targeting reductions of high-volume waste materials.

Nike has already achieved a 35% reduction in grams of waste per pair in contracted footwear factories for its branded products over the past 10 years. Despite a 38% in production since 2006, the company has steadily cut the amount of waste generated per pair of shoes – this figure stood at 149g in 2011.

“In 2011, total waste generated by our Nike brand contract footwear manufacturers was 48.7m kgs, 85% of which was diverted from incineration or landfill through in-house recycling, closed-loop recycling, downcycling and other efforts,” the company said.

Maxine Perella

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