Minimizing our environmental footprint involves understanding our environmental impacts—what they are and where they occur. We use that information to make data informed decisions about our processes throughout Nike operations and our value chain.
We began calculating our environmental footprint in 2002 and expanded its breadth and depth over time. We shared a full value chain footprint, from extraction of raw materials to the end of life of products, for the first time in our FY12/13 Sustainable Business Report. To calculate our footprint, we have developed analytical tools that enable us to deal with the challenges of a deep and complex value chain, sparse data for some areas and intricate science-based footprinting methodologies.
Our footprinting process clearly shows, for instance, that our most significant carbon emission and water impacts stem from the raw materials used in our products and processing those raw materials into finished textiles. That means our overall impacts are in large part driven by the materials choices we make, and that most of our environmental impact occurs in operations we do not directly control.
The data visualization below explores our carbon and water footprint and learn more about what drives our impacts. The visualization is highly interactive: hover, click, and drag-and-drop to explore our footprint across different dimensions. In the future, we also plan to expand this experience to include our chemistry footprint.
We look at our impacts across our full value chain, but what does that actually mean? Our value chain is deep and complex; it involves many stages, from raw material extraction to products’ end of life. The infographic below shows an overview of those different stages—or “tiers”—of our value chain, the main processes within those tiers, and the relative carbon and water impacts of the tiers.
- Our value chain includes nine tiers—that’s more than most other industries—and thus is a challenge to address comprehensively, especially in the tiers where we have less control or influence.
- Consumer use, which includes washing and drying apparel, is energy and water intensive. Our research indicates that Nike’s influence over consumer washing and drying practices is very limited and that most consumers prefer convenience or other factors tied to detergent and washing machine used over washing in cold water and line drying, which are less resource intensive.
- The materials stage of our value chain include growing (i.e. for a cotton t-shirt) or extraction (i.e. to make a polyester t-shirt) to material manufacturing (turning raw cotton into a roll of fabric) to material finishing (adding color) are all very energy and water intensive. Our approach to sustainable materials covers how we tackle this part of our footprint. We are also focused on designing products for multiple uses. You can learn more about designing for reuse in our Circular Design Guide.