In the early 90s, two Nike employees wanted to find a way to keep end-of-life athletic shoes from ending up in landfills, but quickly realized there was no such thing as a shoe recycling machine. So they set out to invent one. Through trial and error that included microwaves, water jets and a ruined family clothes dryer, they eventually came up with a way to transform whole shoes into reusable materials.
A basketball court surface at the Nike facility in Wilsonville, Oregon was the first test use of that recycled material. And with that, the Nike Grind program was born, and a company-wide push towards sustainability and circularity began.
It was soon expanded to include manufacturing scraps from both Nike footwear and apparel products, enabling Nike Grind to recycle materials at a much larger scale across the globe. Today, Nike Grind materials are used in new Nike products, and a variety of consumer products produced by external companies, from sport surfaces to carpet padding to dog toys.
Using repurposed materials in Nike’s own products is an essential part of the Nike Grind program. And external companies who incorporate Nike Grind materials into their own products have helped the program scale significantly over the past 30 years. Their shared commitment to circularity drives them to discover new and unexpected ways to do more with materials that would otherwise be waste.