Thursday, June 20, 2024

Nike Goes Full Circular, Asics Launches the World’s Lightest CO2 Emissions Sneaker


As Nike debuts a fully deconstructable ISPA shoe, Asics SportStyle has unveiled what it says is the lightest CO2 emissions sneaker on the market, the Gel-Lyte III CM 1.95.

Nike has been steadily increasing its sustainability commitments and its Move to Zero campaign. Nike products labeled as containing ‘sustainable materials’ are made up of at least 50 percent recycled content. The sportswear giant has been emphasizing its efforts in reusing, recycling, and repurposing existing materials.

Its latest example is the fully circular ISPA Link Axis (Improvise, Scavenge, Protect, and Adapt). To make the shoe fully circular, each component of the shoe design can be recycled at its end of life. The label minimized materials in construction, foregoing adhesives, and innovating on the design. The Link Axis flyknit upper is made from 100 percent recycled polyester. The shoe also featured recycled TPU tooling (Thermoplastic polyurethane) made from upcycled airbag scraps, among other innovations.

“For more than 30 years, Nike teams have pursued design solutions in service of the athlete and the planet,” the company said in a statement last year.

Nike's ISPA disassembled
Nike’s ISPA disassembled | Courtesy

“As the climate crisis has intensified for athletes around the world, Nike teams have shifted into a higher gear, embracing circular design principles as creative accelerants. Those include the 10 principles outlined in the Nike 2019 Circular Design Guide, an open-source workbook to share learnings and insights with the larger design community and anyone interested in how design can help lessen impact on the planet.”

Nike says the ISPA team considered the circular design principle of “disassembly,” historically one of the more challenging principles in sustainable footwear design. “A good shoe is flexible and durable. Traditionally, designers use glue and other bonding elements to achieve these aims, but that makes a shoe nearly impossible to disassemble and recycle,” Nike says. “Recycling shoes usually requires shredding, an energy-intensive process that limits how the recycled materials can be used. Creating a shoe that can be taken apart would reduce the carbon footprint of the product and open up new possibilities for its life cycle.”

Darryl Matthews, VP, Catalyst FW Product Design, said the shoe was designed in partnership with engineering, digital product creation, and development. “Our hope is that these ideas and aesthetics become normalized, accelerating our ability to imagine how shoes will continue to evolve in the future.”

As a tribute to its initial prototype, the Link Axis will be available in vibrant total orange and sonic yellow hues.

Over at Asics, there’s another sustainability goal in mind. The new Gel-Lyte III CM 1.95 sneaker points the footwear giant firmly in the direction of achieving its commitment to be net zero by 2050.

Inspired by one of the most iconic Asics SportStyle sneakers, the new Gel-Lyte III CM 1.95 features carbon-negative foam both in the midsole and sockliner. The shoe’s upper and the sockliner mesh are made with recycled materials and a solution-dyed polyester to help reduce the overall impact on the planet. And a minimalistic tape method offers a supportive fit for daily activities while also reducing waste, the company says.

Go Suzuki, Executive Officer, Senior General Manger for Asics SportStyle said in a statement that not only is the Gel-Lyte III CM 1.95 sneaker the lightest CO2e emissions sneaker on market, “but we are also confident that it is one of the most aesthetically compelling shoes, on top of being very comfortable for users’ daily activities.”

new asics toe
The new Asics Gel-Lyte III CM 1.95 is its most sustainable shoe yet | Courtesy

According to Suzuki, Asics will accomplish its “bold goal” of achieving net-zero by 2050 by continuing to deliver “creative solutions” as exemplified in the new sneaker.

“To help tackle climate change, Asics supports the global goal of keeping the temperature rise under 1.5˚C.,” the company said in a statement last year. It set targets that have been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative. Asics also became the first Japanese company to join The Fashion Pact, a textile industry collective committed to mitigating climate change, restoring biodiversity, and protecting the oceans.

“Since 1949, Asics has helped people achieve a sound mind in a sound body. Asics is committed to making a positive impact,” the company said, noting that its sustainability framework falls into two pillars: people and planet.

“Asics believes human rights should be supported throughout the supply chain. Asics also believes in the dire threat of pollutants and climate change. Addressing both of these issues is a key part of Asics’ sustainability plan.”

Earlier this year Asics began disclosing its product carbon-impact data, beginning with the 30th edition of its Gel-Kayano series released in July.

Clae Appleskin collection
Clae Appleskin collection | Courtesy

The carbon impact disclosure commitment puts Asics stands shoulder to shoulder with other major players in the footwear sector like Allbirds.

Alice Mitchell, a spokesperson for Asics, said that the carbon reporting aligns with its mission to “uplift individuals through physical activity is synonymous with the obligation to do so in an eco-friendly manner.” She added, “The foundation of Asics, which translates to ‘A Sound Mind in a Sound Body’ from the Latin phrase ‘Anima Sana in Corpore Sano,’ is to elevate the spirits globally through sports. However, to truly attain a sound mind in a sound body, it is imperative to have a healthy earth to live and move on.”

The new sneakers come as the footwear category is seeing a groundswell of innovation. Last month, Saucony debuted its most environmentally friendly running shoe, the Triumph Run For Good, made from corn waste and other plant materials. And earlier this month, Clae debuted a range of sneakers made from upcycled apple waste leather.

“Looking to the future, we’re probably going to focus on vegan [inputs],” CEO Jim Bartholet told Sourcing Journal. “That’s the direction.”

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