Creating items from plastic bottles, it seems, is the hot new to-do item on the corporate checklist these days. Coca-Cola created a recycled-bottle t-shirt for the Olympics to promote its new recycling efforts. Now Nike has created jerseys from recycled plastic bottles for World Cup players.
Late last month, Nike announced that it is providing what it called “the most environmentally-friendly and technologically-advanced kit in football’s history.” The new uniforms, which will be worn by international superstars like Ronaldo, Robinho, Ji-Sung Park, are made from up to eight recycled plastic bottles.
“This summer in South Africa, Nike will give footballers an edge by providing the newest and most innovative product for the game’s greatest players,” said Charlie Denson, Nike brand president, in a recent press release. “With today’s announcement, we are equipping athletes with newly designed uniforms that not only look great and deliver performance benefits, but are also made with recycled materials, creating less impact on our environment.”
Not only are these uniforms created from bottles that would have ended up in landfills, but using recycled polyester saves raw materials, and Nike believes it reduces energy consumption by up to 30 percent. The company estimates that they’ve prevented 13 million plastic bottles from going to landfills by using recycled polyester. That’s nearly 560,000 pounds of polyester waste.
Nike also has added some performance innovations, which they say will keep players cooler, drier, and more comfortable on the field. They include:
- Improved Dri-Fit Fabric that is 15 percent lighter
- Ventilation zones on either side of the jersey increasing airflow by 7 percent
- 10 percent more stretch
Nike deserves some recognition for creating and promoting World Cup jerseys made from recycled bottles. Reducing the energy required to make jerseys by up to 30 percent, and preventing 13 millions plastic bottles from sitting in a landfill is commendable.
And while we are pleased that Nike has taken steps to develop products that use recycled materials, we wonder about all the water and chemical dyes that were needed to create those jerseys. What is being done to ensure that water is not wasted or polluted by chemicals? If the first step is to transition to recycled materials, the next should be to dye responsibly with AirDye or another environmentally sensitive process.