20,000 pairs of sneakers. It’s not the amount in the largest kicks collection, it’s the amount Nike used to create a refurbished basketball court in Hong Kong. That’s 40,000 sneakers that were diverted from landfills, and are now serving a second life.
Called the Shek Lei Grind Court, the surface of the refurbished court was created using Nike Grind, the brand’s eco-friendly material composed of recycled manufacturing scraps, unused materials, and end-of-life shoes, such as pairs donated through Nike’s in-store recycling program. It’s one of the brand’s solutions to developing circular waste systems.
The Shek Lei Grind Court’s location plays a pivotal role in the city. Situated in the Kwai Chung neighborhood, the court is a central destination for 14 primary and secondary schools in the area. This community facility will continue to serve as the region’s recreational space encouraging kids to participate in sport as well as simply play.
British artist James Jarvis was enlisted to provide his distinct illustration style to the court. From a birds-eye view, you can see six of his colorful, signature cartoon characters playing basketball across the court.
What’s more is that Nike is also partnering with the local nonprofit InspiringHK to help facilitate Shek Lei Grind court’s youth programming. InspiringHK is a sports foundation established in 2012 that aims to better youth development through sport.
The sportswear brand is no stranger to refurbishing courts all over the globe, especially in the name of using sport to create change in youth activity and community engagement. The ongoing initiative has seen three community courts in Paris, Beijing, and Mexico City created in collaboration with Parisian artist and Pigalle founder, Stephane Ashpool, all with the goal of developing a space to give back to the community.
“Our court in Paris birthed a community,” said Ashpool in a 2020 Nike News post. “We transformed a parking lot into a place that has fostered a family and inspired people. All the subtle details that can make this magic happen were united. It was the best learning for me, and now it’s the right time to work on expanding this scheme, staying organic, authentic and focused.”
Similar to the Shek Lei Grind court, these basketball courts also utilized Nike Grind as its key surface material. Since developed in 1992 as a grassroots initiative, Nike Grind has recycled 130 million post-consumer and post-industrial waste — plastic, rubber, foam, fiber, leather, textiles, and more — into new products with partners across the world. Its significance cannot be understated, and yet, 90% of shoes still end up in landfills.
Other uses of Nike Grind include work and home goods like carpet padding and tiles, active surfaces like tracks and playgrounds, and notable partnerships like using the recycled material for Lyft’s e-bike charging stations as well as the floor foundation for the Sacramento Kings’ practice court. Nike Grind is also incorporated throughout products, such as the popular Space Hippie line and the Nike Crater collection.