In the world of footwear, Nike reigns as one of the supremes, but unfortunately many shoe companies are large contributors to GHG emissions. Over the last few years we have seen significant strides from these footwear companies innovating new materials, production procedures, and products that increase sustainability to the industry. Allbirds has created the first net-zero shoe product, Adidas produces products that are made from 50% recycled materials, and TOMs gives a pair for every pair purchased, among many others that have switched over their packaging materials to sustainable alternatives. Now, Nike has joined the conversation and has put a new net-zero product into development.

The ReactX foam, soon to be launched in the InfinityRN 4, is a new sustainable and net-zero cushioning foam. The full product will use the Nike Flyknit material, and be designed for road running, part of a new range of Nike shoes built for long distance comfort and support. What’s significant about this particular material is that it reduces the midsole’s carbon footprint by 43%, while improving standard support and cushion. The production process was altered to fit the mold of “net-zero,” instead of going through a compression molding process, the new foam uses an injection process. This process puts boosted energy on a return cycle and reduces the carbon output. This specific material has been researched, developed, and tested for about five years to make sure the process reduces environmental impact while improving performance value. 

Nike’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Noel Kinder, has expressed that this process is just the next step in their sustainability journey, and that they are always looking for ways to improve their carbon footprint. In fact, Nike has developed an updated outline of their sustainability goals targeted for 2025. Upon the ReactX foam, that increases their total carbon reduction by 70%, other goals have been put into place—

  1. 100% waste diverted from landfills, and at least 80% of those materials recycled back into Nike products and goods; 97% was diverted as of their 2022 fiscal year. 
  2. 70% reduction in owned or operated facilities of GHG emissions
  3. 25% reduction of fresh water usage in their dyeing processes 

About 70% of Nike’s products already come from sustainable materials, and they are continuously looking for improvements in that realm. They have developed the Nike Forward, Nike Flyknit, and the Nike Flyleather, all products that are developed from some sort of recycled material, reduce carbon output, and decrease waste. They have also imposed guidelines and regulations on chemical and plastic usage.