Recycling + Donation: Where Does It All Go?
Our Recycling + Donation service started with a simple goal: Make it easier for athletes to reduce waste by getting rid of used athletic shoes and apparel with us. But the question remains, what happens after you drop off your gear?
It’s a complex process that we’re hoping to simplify for you here and explain how we’re helping you actually reduce waste along the way.
The Drop Off
When you bring eligible athletic gear to a participating Nike store, we’ll inspect and then donate or recycle it for you based on its condition. Whether you’re making room in your closet or getting rid of items you no longer wear, leaving it with us is an easy way to make sure what’s been worn is responsibly managed. Read up on what we can and can’t accept.
Getting It Sorted
Each item of footwear or apparel that you bring in is hand inspected. Based on its condition, level of wear, and eligibility, product is sent to donation or recycling.
They also make sure what you’ve brought in is eligible for recycling and donation, a process determined by factors like wear and tear, product age, and product type.
Turning Donations Into Opportunity
Product to be donated gets sent to a Nike partner distributing product donations to organizations that help people facing disasters and other challenging circumstances.
If received product is not in good enough condition or otherwise not eligible for donation, we work to recycle each item in the right way.
For footwear, this means sending it through our state-of-the-art grind machine. Nike Grind is the scrap that comes from manufacturing waste, unused materials, and end-of-life product. After grinding it up, it is separated by material type (rubber, foam, or textile fluff) so that it can be incorporated into new items.
We’ve been incorporating Nike Grind into products, retail spaces, workplace environments, athletic facilities, skateboards, and more for nearly 30 years. That means fewer materials in landfills, and more in the hands (and under the feet of) athletes.
For apparel, we partner with third party pre-processors and recyclers to maximize solutions to recycle it sustainably. We choose partners based on the transparency into their process, and their ability to help ensure we achieve sustainability goals of our own.
As we continue the search for true, structural, and sustainable recycling solutions at scale for harder-to-recycle materials, we also partner with waste-to-energy vendors.
How We Use Recycled Footwear
Nike Grind, playgrounds, basketball courts, and indoor flooring, as well as TPU used in Nike offices, Nike retail spaces, and 3D printing comes from recycled rubber.
While we await a structural solution, recycled foam is currently being shipped on an ad-hoc basis to companies for various surface designs.
As we hunt for true, sustainable recycling solutions for fluff, it’s currently burned for energy recovery.
Less Waste, More Circular Design
Creating a new product means carefully considering how it’s made, what it’s made with, and how it can be remade in the future. Recycling + Donation is just one of ways we’re
partnering with athletes to make sure we’re living up to our sustainability goals. The Nike Refurbished program launched in March 2020 and is another way we are driving towards a circular future by keeping products in their highest use as long as possible. Explore our Circular Design Guide to see where waste reduction fits in, and visit a participating Nike store to see Move to Zero in action, Nike’s journey toward a zero carbon and zero waste future.