After having pioneered the industry with its Considered-program, which is about designing nike apparel that has a very low impact on the environment, Nike’s designers can now create more sustainable products for the whole product range. Nike launched recently an Environmental Apparel Design Tool that helps to reduce the negative environmental impact. This tool provides a score of waste, energy, toxics and water in materials and manufacturing, so the designers can measure the environmental impact.
Nike, whose core business principle is innovation, used green and technologically advanced kits for South Africa 2010, made from 100 percent recycled polyester. The choice of this material diverted 13 million plastic bottles from landfills.
This tool lets to rethink how and what the industry produces, but it also helps to rethink the relationship between companies in the building of sustainable development and more sustainable business.
So what can we learn from Nike’s open innovation experience?
1. Innovation needs collaboration
The key objective of the launch of the Environmental Design Tool is to increase a partnership between companies in a search of more sustainable business. Nike shows that collaboration is needed if business actors want to find more environmental solutions. Nike launched earlier a web platform GreenXchange whose objective is to let people and corporations share and access ideas on how to reduce environmental impact. “I firmly believe that sharing knowledge like this helps us all to move towards a more sustainable future”, says Mike Barry, Head of Sustainability for Marks & Spencer
2. Innovation means openness
The tool was built seven years ago and used by Nike internally. Now everyone can use it in the web. Even more, this new environmentally responsible instrument can be criticized by its users. To improve the Environmental Design Tool Nike chose to build an open dialogue between companies, manufacturers and designers. “Nike’s decision to open source this design tool is a win-win because it leverages important intellectual capital to benefit an entire industry”, says Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, a network of investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups working with companies and investors to address sustainability challenges.
3. Better innovation includes social responsibility
By launching this new tool, Nike acquires an educational role. It promotes environmentally preferred materials and thereby encourages industry to move to low-carbon economy. Nike’s example shows how companies can broaden the business vision by including other industry actors in such issues as sustainable development that affect consumer in the entire world.