Nike’s Most Sustainable Running Shoe Ever Is Made of Scrap Foam and Plastic Bottles

When it comes to continuous eco-conscious innovation, Nike isn’t only talking the talk. The brand just announced the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next Nature running shoe, which Nike names its “most sustainably-minded performance shoe to date.”

The shoe is a sustainably-minded recreation of the brand’s Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%, the top-of-the-line running shoe that Kenyan distance runner wore when he finished a marathon in under 2 hours in 2019 to cap off Nike’s Breaking2 initiative. It’s is part of the brand’s Move To Zero campaign, which hopes to divert 100 percent of waste from landfills back into the supply chain and recycle about 80 percent into its products by 2025.

“We don’t want to be about making shiny objects. We wanted to set our concept car as the intent for how we think about performance and sustainability,” Rachel Bull, Senior Footwear Product Director for Nike Running, said in a release. “Putting a sustainable focus on our fastest marathon shoe also means we need all hands on deck for it to work, from our teams in design to material sourcing to manufacturing.”


Courtesy of Nike

Materials alone make up about 70 percent of the brand’s carbon footprint, meaning finding ways to reuse materials into recycled products is essential. But with the Alphafly Next Nature, Nike claims it also innovated its pattern efficiency to reduce scrap material in the production process.

According to the brand, the Nike Cosmic Unity previously held the title of Nike’s most sustainable performance shoe, containing 25 percent recycled content. In comparison, the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next Nature contains at least 50 percent recycled material. This includes an upper lightweight knit containing 6 to 7 plastic bottles, and recycled content from the scraps of shoes already made with recycled content.

According to Hypebeast, the shoe’s sock liner and laces are made with 100 percent recycled fabric material. And let’s not forget the iconic chunky midsole of the Nike super shoe, which is made of 70 percent recycled foam.

Sure, sustainability is essential—but so is performance. And the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next Nature has that, too. Nike tested the shoes on athletes who logged 400 miles or more of activity in the kicks to make sure they withstood some serious activity.

The new sneakers, which were announced without a confirmed price, are expected to go on sale later this month.

Katie Dupere is an editor and writer in New York City specializing in identity, internet culture, social good, lifestyle and beauty topics. 

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