Sustainability Sunday #51

Nike no other.

Nike’s latest “super material” seems to be the answer to their solid 2015 commitment of doubling the size of their business whilst halving their environmental footprint by 2020 – an exceptionally large goal to achieve in just 5 years. This week gone past (18th – 24th September) was the annual Climate Week in New York City and in impeccable timing for this, Nike have introduced a new fabric partnership with UK-based company, E-Leather. E-Leather take the excess (around 15%) leather from the cutting process to produce Flyleather, which is made by recycling the leather scraps and blending them with polyester to create an upcycled, lighter, sustainable shoe leather.

What about it?

Leather waste — scraps and the like — is crumbled into fibres, then formed into a paste with the power of water jets. That paste is then rolled into sheets of leather, and any scraps that remain after cutting are added back to the scrap heap, creating a closed-loop cycle. Flyleather is also 40% lighter than traditional leather, making the use of it for sports shoes a no-brainer.

Initial thoughts:

  • Leather scraps being re-used ♥
  • Crumbled into paste using water jets X
  • Paste rolled into sheets of leather – potentially energy intensive ?
  • Second round scraps added back to the beginning for a closed loop ♥

Addressing point two above, according to Nike as well as having an 80% reduced carbon  footprint compared to traditional leather, Flyleather boasts a need for 90 percent less water during production. Hannah Jones, Nike’s chief sustainability officer and VP of innovation told Business of Fashion that if you look at Nike’s environmental footprint, 60% of the impact is from the materials that they use. Hannah says that although leather only scrapes into Nike’s top 10 materials used, it has the second-highest negative environmental impact.

However, does Flyleather perform as well as traditional leather? On the surface it looks like Nike are providing us with the same treasured trainers but using less energy and reducing waste – so let’s watch this space and see what the critics say. Me? I’m holding out for this to be a trendsetter to get some of those other sportswear giants to start making some changes!

Read more direct from Nike and/or grab a pair of your own Flyleather footwear on their website.

  

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