Nike has launched a new recyclable shoe, the new Nike ISPA Link Axis, which the company says it is the first exploration into a fully circular shoe.
According to the shoe giant, every part of the shoe can be recycled. It uses interlocking components, fewer materials than conventional shoes and zero glue. Namely, it uses 100% polyester Flyknit upper that’s engineered to fit over the outsole –– compared to traditional cut-and-sew method. The company also used scrap airbag material for its 100% recycled TPU tooling.
The shoe is part of Nike’s ISPA –– Improvise, Scavenge, Protect, Adapt –– design philosophy that focuses on experimentation and reimagined products. Nike said the product moves it closer to a circular vision, which is a closed-loop system that yields no waste.
“A good shoe is flexible and durable,” Nike said in its announcement. “Traditionally, designers use glue and other bonding elements to achieve these aims, but that makes a shoe nearly impossible to disassemble and recycle. Recycling shoes usually requires shredding, an energy-intensive process that limits how the recycled materials can be used. Creating a shoe that can be taken apart would reduce the carbon footprint of the product and open up new possibilities for its life cycle.”
Nike has worked on shoes designs focused on sustainability for the past several years. The company introduced its Space Hippie collection in 2020, with products made from space junk. Its 2020 Olympic designs were also touted as designed with minimal waste. The company also put out its 2019 Circular Design Guide, an open-source workbook that intends to share learnings and insights with the design community.
The first prototype of the Link Axis debuts Sept. 12 on SNKRS.