Nike's commitment to sustainability began 25 years ago, when it launched a grassroots initiative to collect and recycle shoes. But in 2020 and beyond, the company says, we're going to see a lot more from it as it makes an even bigger push into minimizing its environmental footprint. Today, three days before the NFL's Super Bowl 54, Nike is unveiling the redesign of an iconic high school football field in Miami, the Nathaniel Traz Powell Stadium, which has been updated with 282,000lbs of Nike Grind Infill, eco-friendly lighting (like LEDs), and newly planted trees that are intended to provide clean air for both players and fans.
For the uninitiated, Grind Infill is rubber material that's made out of recycled footwear and excess manufacturing scraps. Not only do these elements reduce environmental waste, according to Nike, but they also "maximize playability" and make the field easier to maintain in the long run. With the trees the company is planting at "Traz" Powell, which is home to seven high schools in Miami Dade School District (including three state champions), Nike says they won't need much water to grow — that may seem like a small detail at a glance, but when you consider that parts of the world are running out of freshwater, every little bit counts.
The next step — Nike told Input that this is only the beginning of its plan to design fields and stadiums with sustainability in mind. "As part of our commitment to protecting the future of sport," the company said, "we’ll be rolling out more sustainable fields and play areas globally in the foreseeable future."
And it's making them smarter, too. At the renovated "Traz" Powell Stadium, Nike installed SmarTracks Timing Gates around the track field, which lets athletes use an app to measure their running time up to the millisecond. This technology is designed to help runners and football players alike measure their performance in detail, all with a simple smartphone app dubbed "Athlete."
Sustainability at play — Adidas, Nike's main sportswear rival, is also working on efforts of its own. The German brand this week revealed that it will be using recycled marine waste filling in a new college football field in Miami, as part of a sustainability-focused vision it began in 2015 through a partnership with Parley for the Oceans.
Nike, for its part, says it will continue to come up with ways to help "today’s athletes and for future generations," noting that its work with the "Traz" Powell Stadium is a sign of more things to come.