Nike unveils ‘supply chain of the future’ with new campus expansion

Global sportswear giant Nike has reiterated its commitment to promoting a closed-loop business model by unveiling the latest expansion of its 100% renewable European Logistics Campus, which aims to "maximise performance while minimising footprints".

Located in Belgium, the Logistics Campus aims to accelerate Nike’s drive towards creating a low-carbon and circular supply chain by utilising a range of renewable generation sources and innovative construction measures. It marks the fifth period of growth for the Campus, which stretches across Laakdal, Meerhout and Ham in Belgium.

“Globally, we ship more than one billion units of footwear, apparel and equipment every year, which demands an agile, innovative and sustainable supply chain,” Nike’s chief operating officer Eric Sprunk said.

“The expansion of our European Logistics Campus demonstrates our commitment to bring the full range of Nike products to consumers more quickly, where and when they want it – whether it’s one pair of Flyknit shoes or a 10,000-item order for a retailer.”

The latest installations in the state-of-the-art centralised distribution network aim to promote sustainability both as an operational mantra and as a daily aspect of the 3,000 plus people that work at the Logistics Campus.

Integrated innovation

Running on 100% renewable energy – obtained from five locally generated sources including, solar, biomass and hydroelectric – the Campus uses six on-site wind turbines to produce enough electricity to power 5,000 households, while the on-site solar panels can collectively cover the landmass of three football pitches.

As well as using LED lighting, which dims and illuminates as required through the presence or movement of employees, the Campus is fed by an infrastructure of canals, railways and highways which saves more than 14,000 truck journeys each year and reduces carbon emissions by around 30%.

An integrated closed-loop water strategy uses buffering, infiltration and recycling to lower water use; while pathways around the facilities are made from recycled footwear material, which froms part of the drive that has seen more than 95% of on-site waste is recycled.

By moving away from the more traditional infrastructures, which requires the use of the struggling steel and concrete sectors, Nike has built a rack-supported warehouse – inspired by Flyknit technology – to reduce material use and the associated carbon and waste footprints.

Green roofs, green walls and landscaping have all been utilised to support biodiversity which includes habitats for bees and sheep to provide natural upkeep methods that support the surrounding natural ecosystems.

While the use of hybrid cranes – which store energy while they are operational – has helped cut electricity demand by more than 20%, the employees have also been encouraged to use sustainable commuting methods. Any employee who uses a bike to commute for at least 50% of the time will be provided with a free bike, including an electric model for those who live further than 15km from the site.

The Campus forms part of a wider pledge to support the transition to the circular economy, which was encapsulated when Nike became the latest major brand to join the Ellen MacArthur Foundation as a global partner.

Mes que un kit

Supplying to retail and wholesale partners across 38 countries, Nike has become synonymous with arguably one of the biggest footballing clubs on the planet.

Unveiled over the weekend (30 May), FC Barcelona’s new kit for the 2016/17 season incorporates Nike’s most advanced technology, with each kit made using 16 recycled plastic bottles.

Since 2010, more than three billion plastic bottles have been converted into recycled polyester for use in FC Barcelona kits, enough to cover more than 5,000 football pitches.

edie Sustainable Supply Chain Conference

Realising the reputational, efficiency and economic benefits of a truly sustainable supply chain has become a core objective for multinational firms and ambitious SMEs alike. 

But while the paybacks are clear to see, the process of identifying material issues within supply chains; formulating an ethical and responsible CSR strategy, and communicating that strategy both internally and externally is a complex and challenging endeavour.

Now in its fifth year, the edie Sustainable Supply Chain Conference will discuss all of these issues and more, on 6 July in London. Find out more about the Conference and register to attend here. 

Matt Mace

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