Being efficient and thoughtful with our materials, including making use of the leftover scraps, helps us to minimize environmental impact and reduce costs.
Historically, parts of a shoe are cut from a roll of material using a method called “die cutting,” which is much like using a cookie cutter to cut shapes out of cookie dough. Minimizing the gap between cut parts requires very careful placement of the material and the cutter. Doing this consistently requires significant operator skill and focus, and at its best typically reduces gaps to no less than 2.0 mm.
We are working with our suppliers to reduce cutting waste by replacing die cutting with modern cutting technologies that use lasers, which are capable of consistently producing cutting gaps that are less than 0.5 mm.
More than 700 laser cutting machines are now operational at the largest and most advanced supplier facilities making our products. When our cutting modernization plan is fully implemented, we expect to reduce Nike’s global footwear waste by more than 1 million kilograms annually. To put this into perspective, the average person in the US generates 4.38 lbs. (2.18kg) of waste per day, so preventing 1 million kilograms of factory waste is equivalent to more than 500,000 people generating zero waste for one day. This will make a significant contribution to our goal of reducing footwear manufacturing waste by 10 percent per pair by 2020.