Environment

Nike's bug-eyed sneakers split into three pieces for recycling

Nike's bug-eyed sneakers split...
Nike's new three-piece, recyclable ISPA Link launches next month
Nike's new three-piece, recyclable ISPA Link launches next month
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Nike's new three-piece, recyclable ISPA Link launches next month
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Nike's new three-piece, recyclable ISPA Link launches next month
The sole pods snap together with the upper to create the Link shoe body
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The sole pods snap together with the upper to create the Link shoe body
ISPA Link owners can easily break the shoes down into the three components and drop them off to be recycled
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ISPA Link owners can easily break the shoes down into the three components and drop them off to be recycled
The Link Axis uses a different design but with the same goal
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The Link Axis uses a different design but with the same goal
The ISPA Link Axis will launch in 2023
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The ISPA Link Axis will launch in 2023
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Recycled apparel, footwear and gear have long been hoarding the spotlight, but forward-looking recyclable products and concepts are making their play for a fair share of the glow. Nike looks to make shoe recycling simpler with its all-new ISPA Link, a glue-less sneaker that quickly separates into three pieces at the end of its lifecycle, essentially presorting itself for recycling. Nike hopes to scale the program to make sneaker recycling a more universal concept.

The ISPA (that's Nikese for Improvise; Scavenge; Protect; Adapt) Link isn't the first recyclable sneaker we've seen from a major manufacturer, but it does incorporate a different strategy, relying on three separate pieces that fit together without adhesives or stitching to create the whole. Nike explains that adhesives make a shoe very difficult to disassemble for recycling, so it leaves them behind.

The large pods on the single-piece Link midsole fit snugly inside the matching holes on the soft upper to create the shoe body.

Those pods, which remind us of fly's eyes at the heel, then serve as the shoe's outsole. The third and final piece is the shoelace that ties the upper closed. Nike promises that the shoe is still flexible, comfortable and durable, just with a new, more circular-oriented construction.

ISPA Link owners can easily break the shoes down into the three components and drop them off to be recycled
ISPA Link owners can easily break the shoes down into the three components and drop them off to be recycled

It will be interesting to see if the Link lasts as long as traditionally assembled sneakers. The recycling process itself won't be quite as simple as throwing the shoes into the curbside mixed bin, but the easy three-piece breakdown promises to make it easier than manually sorting shoe types, yanking out metal eyelets and separating out multiple materials several times over – especially for the sneaker owners, who need only drop the Link pieces off at a Nike store with Recycling and Donation Center.

In addition to promoting recyclability, the glue-less construction of the ISPA Link simplifies manufacturing. Without having to let adhesives set or use energy-intensive processes like heating and cooling, Nike says the shoe can be assembled with less resources in roughly eight minutes.

The ISPA Link Axis will launch in 2023
The ISPA Link Axis will launch in 2023

The ISPA Link is set to launch in June, and in 2023 will be joined by the even wilder-looking ISPA Link Axis. Nike intends to scale the sneaker recycling program to reach a wider audience, and move toward its greater sustainability goals.

Source: Nike

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4 comments
4 comments
paul314
It's possible that even if it doesn't last as long the net effect is still positive. (Except perhaps on wallets, but consider the alternative.)
Bob Flint
I like the three part recyclable break down of parts (glue less) should be inexpensive if using recuperated plastics in the first place. I bet the market will see something similar that anyone can even print their own shape, color, and support as one decides with cheap 3D printers & recycled filaments.
Username
It separates in two parts, not three. Normal shoes are considered to be separated in two parts when you remove the laces.
ReservoirPup
Look good, recycle well, and maybe last OK. Hope to put them on soon, if the price is reasonable.