Nike Sets Targets, Agenda for Sustainability

The Swoosh is setting a new standard for green.

Nike Inc. on Thursday released its newest “Sustainable Business Performance Summary,” a comprehensive report that outlines not only progress the Beaverton, Ore.-based athletic giant has made on its own sustainability targets, but sets standards to work toward for 2015 and beyond.

The report also details a new system Nike will use to assess contract factories across all parameters called the Manufacturing Index. It includes what Nike is terming the Sourcing and Manufacturing Sustainability Index (SMSI), which will measure environmental performance factors like water, energy use and waste, as well as health, safety and labor management.

According to the company, the SMSI has completed a pilot program and is being rolled out across the company’s global supply chain.

“Nike is known globally for our innovative performance products, and sustainability has now increasingly become core to our business approach,” Nike president and CEO Mark Parker said in a release. “We know we cannot achieve our bold sustainability goals simply by delivering incremental improvements. We need to deliver innovations that rapidly evolve the way things are done at Nike, in our industry and throughout business.”

Key accomplishments the company highlighted in the report include a 6 percent reduction in carbon emissions from factories contracted to produce Nike brand footwear between fiscal year 2008 and 2011, despite a 20 percent increase in production. And 97 percent of Nike branded footwear achieved the company’s baseline levels on their Considered sustainability index.

Nike’s new goals include new product design and labor standards, as well as reduction targets in use of energy and water.

“Since we began setting targets years ago, we’ve learned the greatest opportunity to drive change is in the areas where we have the most impact,” Nike VP of Sustainable Business and Innovation Hannah Jones said in the statement. “We know our materials create our greatest environmental impact. We control the design so this is where we began to focus when we rolled out our “Considered Design” ethos in 2009. We are now applying this same discipline and rigor in designing sustainability into the way we source and manufacture our products.”

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