Nike SF6 Substitution Project
Nike is helping to stop global warming, one shoe at a time. By replacing SF6, the gas originally used to fill the air cushions in the soles of Nike shoes, with nitrogen, the company has avoided the release of millions of tons of CO2 equivalent. As an added benefit, Nike worked with Entergy and Environmental Resources Trust (ERT) to develop a project to install solar power on schools in New Orleans using the funds generated from the carbon offsets.
It may seem like a little thing: the pocket of air in the bottom of an Air Max sneaker. But these pockets used to have a big impact on climate change. Nike, who patented the “Air” technology, had originally filled these air bags with sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), a greenhouse gas 22,200 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Nike used the gas because it was dense and inert, initially without an awareness of how dangerous it was to the Earth’s climate.
When Nike learned, however, of the environmental impact caused by the fabrication of its popular shoe, the company searched for experts to help make changes. Nike began working with ERT to replace the gas, at first with Perfluoropropane, a less powerful greenhouse gas, and ultimately with nitrogen, which is has no impact on climate change. The company voluntarily invested millions of dollars into improving and retooling its manufacturing facility in Beaverton, Oregon to enable the use of the new gases. This effort prevented the equivalent of millions of tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.
And the goodwill didn’t stop there.
The initiative will begin the installations, including in some cases new roofs, on a number of New Orleans schools this year. The project will dramatically decrease electricity costs for these schools and open up new educational opportunities for the students.