According to the World Economic Forum, water quantity and quality has been identified as the biggest threat facing the planet over the next decade. We recognize the increasing risk of water availability globally, and we’ve been working to reduce our water footprint for years.
Fresh water is critical to everyone on this planet, whether for personal use, growing crops, manufacturing products and washing clothes. Due to climate change, water is expected to become increasingly scarce. We believe it is imperative to do our part to ensure water is available for local communities as well as our business.
We are focused on using water more efficiently, which, in part, means focusing on wastewater quality. Our moonshot goal is to reduce our water use by half through innovation and efficiency across our value chain.
To reduce our water use, we’re focused on four key strategies:
- Innovate Low-Water Materials and Technologies: We are building the capabilities of our supply chain to ensure we use water as efficiently as possible to process the materials in our products.
- Use Less: We are building the capabilities of our supply chain to ensure we use water as efficiently as possible to process the materials in our products.
- Reuse: Our goal is to take water once and reuse it forever. We are scaling closed-loop water with our materials suppliers to eliminate water withdrawals.
- Scale through Industry Collaboration: We’re collaborating across the industry to develop new ways to grow materials like cotton more sustainably, especially in water-stressed areas. We want to drive systemic, industry-wide change, setting standards that ensure other businesses are also returning clean water to the system.
We surpassed our water reduction target in FY15, so we set a new target for 2020—reduce the amount of freshwater used by dyeing and finishing suppliers by 20%. In FY19, we achieved this 2020 commitment in textile dyeing 18 months early, and closed the year 125% ahead of target.
In FY17, our global team of water consultants deployed the Nike Minimum Water Program. This program sets performance expectations for water stewardship, wastewater treatment data collection, water scarcity and flooding risks. It also introduced an approach to water and wastewater treatment equipment. The Minimum Water Program helps us find ways to be more efficient and to prepare our suppliers for water recycling.
To achieve a closed-loop future for water (a future in which we reuse all the water in our system), we need all our suppliers to focus on resiliency, efficiency and smart management. We collaborate primarily with our largest materials suppliers who account for approximately 80% of material production. These suppliers have the largest water withdrawals and the greatest opportunity for adopting new technologies, so we’re working closely with them to improve their water management, wastewater treatment and recycling processes.
In addition to taking a proactive approach to helping our material vendors tackle their water and wastewater challenges, we’re helping lead the development of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg 3.0 Facility Environment Module and the development and proliferation of the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Foundation’s wastewater guideline. Through these efforts, we’re driving change in water use and wastewater treatment across our industry.
Created by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, brands and manufacturers, the Higg Index is a suite of tools that enables brands, retailers, and facilities of all sizes to accurately measure and score a company or product’s sustainability performance.