Circular Innovation Challenge

The future demands a transition to a circular economy—a world in which materials can be used and reused at their highest potential. Nike is pushing the boundaries of the circular economy by transforming waste into value streams.

The Nike Circular Innovation Challenge called on designers, engineers, scientists, and makers to join us in creating a more circular future. Specifically, we challenged solvers around the world to partner with us in addressing two questions:
Design With Grind
How might we create new products using Nike Grind materials?
Material Recovery
How might we develop new technologies to advance footwear recycling?

Design With Grind Challenge: Creating New Products Using Nike Grind Materials

Nike Grind is a palette of premium recycled materials recovered from used footwear and manufacturing scrap. To date, Nike Grind materials have been incorporated into more than 1 billion square feet of running tracks, gym floors and other surfaces around the world.


In partnership with OpenIDEO, we sought to inspire the creation of products that improve the lives of the people who use them, while also reducing waste at the same time. We challenged the world to design and prototype promising new uses for Nike Grind materials.

Material Recovery Challenge: Developing New Technologies to Advance Footwear Recycling

A critical barrier to achieving a more circular economy is the challenge of recovering pure materials from recycled products. In partnership with NineSigma the Material Recovery Challenge sought to push the boundaries of what’s possible for footwear recycling by challenging solvers to help us achieve higher quality material outputs from existing recycling facilities.

Solutions from both the Design With Grind and Material Recovery Challenge are being considered for further development in partnership with NIKE, Inc.
Design With Grind Challenge Solutions
It astounded us how creative yet pragmatic and scalable the solutions were. We’re excited to announce our pilot Design With Grind Challenge winner and runner-ups.

First Place Winner: Yogo

Unique yoga mats, cushions, and blocks filled with Nike Grind and/or with Nike Grind “confetti.”


Jessica Thompson, the yogi behind Yogo, joined the Design with Grind Challenge as a way to explore and develop sustainable product lines for her established yoga accessories business. Her commitment to sustainability is not only evident in her work to develop the Yogo Replay mats, blocks and meditation cushions using Nike Grind materials, but also in her business model: For each yoga mat sale, Yogo gifts a food-bearing tree, and the tools to tend to it, to a family in need in a developing country.


Team: Jessica Thompson

Location: San Francisco, California

Other Design With Grind Winners

InShape Mattress

Conforming vacuum mattress for people suffering from neurodevelopmental disorders filled with Nike Grind materials


The InShape Mattress is a versatile, conformable cushioning system developed specifically for the needs of children with Rett Syndrome. The Milan-based team partnered makers with physical therapists who were inspired to make a more adaptable, affordable and environmentally-friendly therapeutic mattress.


Team: Alberto Romano, Enrico Bassi, Federica Mandelli, Mariasilvia Poltonieri, Mattia Ciurnelli

Location: Milan, Italy

Circular Cities

Street safety product made with epoxy/recyclamine resin and Nike Grind.


Imagining how circular cities might look, feel and operate in the future made this six-member team come to life. Their solution utilizes Nike Grind as a core ingredient in traffic-calming devices, which aim to make cities safer for pedestrians and cyclists, ultimately encouraging a shift towards more eco-friendly transportation. More than that, this solution builds on its circular innovation process as retired Circular City street safety devices can be disassembled and recycled directly into new ones.


Team: Cody Miller, Daniel Penge, Carla Ramirez Sosa, Megan Lighty, Elisia Langdon, Kyle Ramos

Location: Brooklyn, New York


Diverse climbing holds for rock climbing walls made with Nike Grind Rubber Granulate.


This duo, studying art and product design together at both ECAL in Switzerland and Tama Art University in Japan, was inspired by footwear design and rock climbing when taking on the Design with Grind Challenge. With a fresh perspective and a circular design lens, the team at pdd_kick used Nike Grind material as a central ingredient in developing slip-resistant climbing holds. Working together, they created a variety of holds with different grip types and in different shapes, suitable for applications in indoor rock climbing gyms.


Team: Go Takahashi, Tuo Lei

Location: Tokyo, Japan


A suite of modern, modular furniture made with Nike Grind Fiber Fluff & Nike Grind Rubber Granulate.


Three Falmouth University graduates studying integrated design collaborated to develop not only a sleek set of furniture but also a way to reform Nike Grind Rubber Granulate into an eco-friendly composite material that can be used as an alternative to plastic. Inspired by the challenge to design sustainably and with circularity in mind, the team trialed numerous versions of Nike Grind material for furniture and came up with both structural and cushioning applications.


Team: Harry Ingrams, Lucie Pendered-Mazer, Max Ashford

Location: London, UK

Material Recovery Challenge Winner

Promising solutions to this challenge came in from all corners of the globe. The standout finalists have provided proof of concepts that showcase different paths to advancing and evolving the footwear recycling process.


We believe these solutions have commercial applications, and some are even being considered for collaborative implementation in our own Nike Grind process.

First Place: SuMaRec

Better rubber. Butter fluff. Better Grind. A Process for improved recover of materials from footwear.


Leveraging experience in separating diverse plastic materials and removing contamination from plastics, the team developed and tested new automated technology approaches to supplement the Nike Grind recovery process. The team demonstrated that these technology inserts-including a coarse material shredding and air classification process, and an elastomer separation technology, can improve the purity of Nike Grind material outputs.


Team: Brian Riise, John Gybers

Location: San Ramon, California/Saint Augustine, Florida