Nike and Newlight’s AirCarbon Join Forces to Explore Carbon-Negative Sportswear
Nike has also announced that it will be experimenting with Newlight’s AirCarbon technology, as an alternative to its current-generation materials. According to Noel Kinder, Nike’s Chief Sustainability Officer, “Materials account for 70 percent of Nike’s total carbon footprint, and we’re accelerating our efforts and exploring new opportunities in this space.”
Established in 2003, Newlight has been developing ways to replicate the natural carbon-negative process of transforming air and carbon into solids. For instance, a tree creating a leaf will absorb more carbon dioxide than it emits. By studying both woodland and aquatic procedures, Newlight created AirCarbon.
AirCarbon uses natural ocean microorganisms that eat air and carbon to make polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), which is composed of 40% oxygen and 60% carbon. PHB is a bio-based polymer that can be melted to form alternatives for plastic, leather, and more. SCS Global Services and Carbon Trust, two third-party verification companies for environmental sustainability, have approved Newlight’s AirCarbon as being carbon-negative.
PHBs are excellent at energy storage, which means they are extremely versatile and can be transformed into fiber and sheets, as well as typical solid parts. It can even replace both leather and plastic; Covalent, a smaller sustainable fashion company, has already utilized AirCarbon in some of its products. AirCarbon is also dishwasher safe, high-strength, and home compostable. As it is based on biomaterials, AirCarbon is easily broken down, compared to the hundreds of years it takes for plastic to decompose.
Nike has doubled down on its efforts to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly over the last five years or so. The sportswear brand released a soft goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65% in owned and operated spaces, as well as a 30% reduction in supply chain management by 2030. By 2050, it hopes to be completely carbon-zero, meaning that it will not emit more than it consumes.
AirCarbon’s introduction into Nike’s supply chain will be pivotal for Newlight’s adoption and success in other related industries. Newlight CEO Mark Herrema said “Our mission is change at scale, and there are few better partners in the world than Nike to help achieve that. We are excited to explore how AirCarbon can help Nike decarbonize its products and achieve its ambitious carbon-reduction goals.”
Nike has shown a willingness to change as well as the initiative to take action and implement measures that will drastically decrease emissions. “AirCarbon offers an opportunity to further reduce our impact on the planet,” said Kinder. “In the race against climate change, we can’t wait for solutions, we have to work together to create them.”
This is very exciting news in conjunction with adidas’ steps towards sustainability (which you can read about here), as it means that the two most prominent companies are committed to and working towards being sustainable and environmentally friendly.
In other material partnerships news, lululemon and Genomatica are working together to replace conventional nylons with bio-based fabrics.