Nike has been one green company lately — in the last year, it has pushed for a strong clean energy and climate bill in Congress on its own and in concert with others and it has helped to reduce deforestation of the Amazon. Now, Nike has also just reported that it reduced its own carbon footprint last year while still growing economically. In fact, it has tremendously reduced greenhouse gas pollution over the last decade and 2009 just kept the ball rolling.
On top of all of that, Nike announced today that along with nine other organizations — Yahoo!, Best Buy, Creative Commons, IDEO, Mountain Equipment Co-op, nGenera, Outdoor Industry Association, salesforce.com, and 2degrees — Nike will “collaborate and share intellectual property (IP) which can lead to new sustainability business models and innovation.” This “Web-based marketplace” — GreenXchange (GX) — was announced at a CEO breakfast at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this morning.
If this all has you feeling warm inside, read on.
Nike’s Carbon Emissions Down, Sales Up
Nike reports that it reduced the carbon emissions of its supply chain by 4% in 2009 compared to 2008. Additionally, in the midst of the economic recession, its revenue grew by 3% in 2009 and 14% in 2008. So, lack of economic activity was not the cause of the emissions reductions.
Nike reports that its greenhouse gas footprint in 2009 was 1.53 million tons of CO2 equivalent. In 2008, it was 1.6 million tons. More dramatically, though, in 1997-1998, it was 7.5 million! Nike has made a lot of improvement in the past 10 years or so.
According to Tom young of BusinessGreen, “It has introduced a programme to monitor and improve the carbon footprint of factories, as well as provide better energy training for employees.” Additionally, it has cleaned up its IT sector (environmentally) and also uses teleconferencing and videoconferencing more to avoid business travel.
Nike is so committed to reducing its own emissions, and doing so well at that, that it has decided to completely stop purchasing carbon offsets.
Nike’s report states, “Our preference is to achieve climate neutrality through a combination of energy efficiency and the purchase of more direct forms of renewable energy, through onsite applications and other means.”
Nike-owned and operated facilities grew in size by 41% from 2007 to 2009 but in the same time they reduced their CO2 emissions. Others should take note of what they are doing. And that’s exactly what this next part is about.
“There is so much duplication of effort and wasted resources when it comes to sustainability,” said John Wilbanks, VP for Science at Creative Commons, the organization responsible for creating a platform to make the sharing of intellectual property (IP) simple, faster and more cost-effective. “We need to make it easier for individuals, companies, academia, and researchers to collaborate and share best practices in order to create and adopt technologies that have the potential to solve global sustainability challenges.”
NIKE, Inc. president and CEO Mark Parker said, “Nike is today committing to placing more than 400 of our patents on GX for research, demonstrating our belief that the best way to stimulate sustainable innovation is through open innovation.”
As one example, one thing Nike thinks may be useful for others is “Nike’s Environmentally Preferred Rubber” — other footwear companies could use it like Nike does or, for example, companies like Mountain Equipment Co-op could use it to make environmentally friendly bicycle inner tubes.
Nike’s Sustainable Business and Innovation Lab was a key actor in the creation of GX.
Nike is Going Beyond Greenwashing
As someone who is personally skeptical every time a for-profit company announces how green they are, I have to say that Nike is an inspiration. It is great to see them leading the way on these issues.
Nike was never really my brand of choice, but they are growing on me.
Image Credit 1: Incase Designs via flickr under a CC license
Image Credit 2: Pensiero via flickr under a CC license
Image Credit 3: vecinodelquinto! via flickr under a CC license