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Nike Releases Environmental Apparel Design Tool

Nike has released its Environmental Apparel Design Tool. Based on Nike’s Considered Design Index and designed and built by Nike over seven years with a $6 million investment, the company says that the tool will help designers make real time choices that decrease the environmental impacts of their work by rating how apparel designs score in reducing waste and increasing the use of environmentally preferred materials.

“This tool is about making it simple for designers to make the most sustainable choices right at the start of the product creation process,” says Hannah Jones, Vice President of Nike Sustainable Business and Innovation. “Over the past four years it has proved to be invaluable at Nike and has helped us create products with a higher sustainability standard.”

The company points to the football jerseys it produced for South Africa 2010 as an example of how the tool helped designers produce environmentally-friendly and technologically-advanced uniforms. Made from 100% recycled polyester, the material choice diverted 13 million plastic bottles from landfill.

In the last year alone, Nike says it doubled its use of recycled polyester, saving 82 million plastic bottles from landfill. If all apparel companies committed to converting one third of their polyester garments to recycled polyester, the demand for recycled polyester would be greater than the annual production of plastic bottles, diverting PET bottles from landfill, Nike says.

“As a company committed to developing a sustainable business, we welcome this type of industry collaboration,” says Mike Barry, Head of Sustainability for Marks & Spencer, who has worked closely with Nike for several years on sustainability issues. “The Nike tool will help apparel companies and retailers design more sustainable product. We firmly believe that sharing knowledge like this helps us all move towards a more sustainable future faster.”

Nike says it will also be releasing its Footwear Design Tool, Material Assessment Tool and Water Assessment Tool in 2011.

These efforts come after Nike’s announcement earlier this year about the GreenXchange, a Web-based marketplace where companies can collaborate and share intellectual property which can lead to new sustainability business models and innovation. Nike committed to placing more than 400 patents on GX for research, demonstrating its belief that the best way to stimulate sustainable innovation is through open innovation.

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