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OREGON – Nike has had a remarkable global response to a circular economy challenge it set to create new products from footwear waste. The sportswear giant received more than 600 applications from 58 countries for its Circular Innovation Challenge which challenged designers, engineers and scientists to close the loop in footwear waste. Submissions were invited to send ideas on what can be made from footwear material waste and how the footwear recycling process be improved to ensure that higher quality, more versatile resources are created from footwear-related waste.

Those selected as finalists have been invited to create either new products using Nike Grind, a palette of premium materials (rubber, foam, fibre, leather and textile blends) recovered in the footwear manufacturing and recycling process, or to improve upon the Grind recycling process itself.

Said a press note from Nike: “It astounded us how creative yet pragmatic and scalable the solutions were.

“Promising solutions to this challenge came in from all corners of the globe. The standout finalists have provided proof of concepts that showcase different paths to advancing and evolving the footwear recycling process.

“We believe these solutions have commercial applications, and some are even being considered for collaborative implementation in our own Nike Grind process.”

Among the winning entries are Yogo, pictured, a unique line of yoga accessories developed with an assortment of Nike footwear waste by Jessica Thompson from San Francisco.

Other winners included Brian Riise and John Gysbers who identified two new phases that could be added to the standard Nike Grind material recovery process: an additional material separation step that divides outputs based on their weight, and an extra material-grinding step. Together, these steps are said to have the potential to improve the purity of the material outputs that come from the Nike Grind process.

Solutions from both the Design with Grind and the Material Recovery Challenges are being considered for further development in partnership with Nike, Inc.

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