Looking for new ways to keep products alive, Nike is launching the Nike Refurbished program, which takes returns for gently worn, like-new or imperfect footwear, and refurbishes and cleans them to be resold at Nike stores at a discount.
The program is launching in 15 U.S. Nike stores, according to a company press release, with plans for expansion later in the year. Refurbished products will be sold at the retailer's Nike Factory outlet stores, Nike Unite and Nike Community stores, according to the website, though most of the initial 15 stores are located in outlet centers.
Items that can be restored to "as close to new condition as possible" are restocked as Nike Refurbished products, while those that can't be refurbished to that level can be donated to a community partner or recycled into materials and products through Nike Grind.
As retailers begin to act on the amount of waste they produce, refurbishment programs have come to the forefront as a way for retailers to put old or returned products back in front of consumers.
The tactic has been adopted by several outdoor retailers over the years, as those companies tend to be at the forefront of environmental concerns. The North Face in 2018 began piloting a refurbished product line, while REI has expanded its own used gear sales and offerings over the years, and Patagonia is even testing out stores for its resale business Worn Wear.
But as interest in buying from sustainable brands grows despite the pandemic, the trend has moved beyond just the first wave of companies. EBay in October last year launched a "Certified Refurbished" program to resell used items, which must be cleaned and inspected before being resold to consumers, and Nordstrom in January last year introduced an apparel resale shop stocked with repaired and refurbished products.
For Nike, the effort is part of its larger sustainability goals, which include donating, refurbishing or recycling 10 times as many used or defective products by 2025 than it currently does, among others. According to Nicole Otto, vice president of Nike Direct North America, Nike is focused on making its materials more sustainable, as they make up 70% of its carbon footprint. Right now, that means 78% of products contain some recycled material, but the company wants to increase that number and has also set a goal to divert 100% of material waste back into the supply chain.
"We know that our business's size and scale are major drivers in maintaining a healthy planet and an equal playing field for all, so we have made it part of our corporate commitment to better serve our consumers while protecting the planet," Otto said by email. "As part of this broader Move to Zero commitment, our Supply Chain team saw an opportunity to reduce our waste footprint at retail through an integrated pipeline that give products a second life. After testing out these capabilities for nearly two years, we used these learnings to develop and launch Nike Refurbished."
The retailer also noted in its announcement that it has partnered with Lyft to create 40 e-bike and scooter docking stations using, in part, Nike Grind material. The Nike Grind program has recycled over 130 million pounds of waste, according to Nike.