The best way to highlight your company’s environmental commitments is to bring them into the spotlight. We’re guessing that’s the motive behind Nike’s move to make this summer’s World Cup shirts out of recycled plastic bottles. The shirts will be worn by all nine Nike-sponsored teams, including England, Brazil, Portugal, and the Netherlands.
Nike’s bottles-to-T-shirts operation is fairly straightforward. Recycled polyester comes from a Taiwanese supplier that cuts up, melts, and spins plastic bottles into a yarn for the shirts. Each shirt will consist of 100% recycled polyester and approximately eight plastic bottles. The shirts are slightly more expensive to produce than standard jerseys, but Nike claims that the costs ultimately even out because less material is needed for production. And on the outside, players and fans won’t be able to tell the difference between the bottle-filled jerseys and the regular polyester shirts worn by non-Nike teams.
Environmentally savvy soccer lovers will also have the chance to check out Nike’s shirts–the brand is using 13 million plastic bottles to produce jerseys for fans. All in all, Nike’s initiative will stop 254,000 kg of polyester waste from being dumped in landfills.
Nike isn’t the only company to manufacture shirts out of plastic bottles. Coca-Cola’s Drink2Wear shirts are also made out of recycled bottles, and Patagonia started manufacturing fleece out of post-consumer bottles in 1993 with little fanfare. But by featuring the technology at sporting events watched by millions, Nike is letting the world know that the technology is worth our attention.