Kenyan marathon world champion Abel Kirui will take his place at the start line this Sunday in footwear and clothing that combine high performance innovation with environmentally sustainable design from head to toe.
The Kenya singlet he will wear is made from recycled fabric that comes from the equivalent of three recycled plastic bottles. To make the fabric, bottles are ground into flakes, melted and then spun into special thread. All of the Track & Field uniforms for Nike sponsored federations have also been created using this technique.
The Kenyan colors have been added to the singlet using an innovative water-free dye process. Earlier this year, Nike announced a strategic partnership with DyeCoo, a Netherlands-based company that has developed and built the first commercially available waterless textile dyeing machines. By using recycled carbon dioxide, DyeCoo’s technology eliminates the use of water in the textile dyeing process.
On average, textile dyeing uses an estimated 100-150 liters of water to process 1 kg of textile material today. The synthetic textile dyeing industry consumes 2.4 trillion gallons of water per year, the equivalent to 3,700,000 competition swimming pools. As part of its commitment to sustainable design, Nike has been exploring this technology for the past eight years and aims to scale it for larger production volumes in the future.
Utilizing c02, an inert and non-toxic gas that is available as waste from other industries, waterless dyeing is an innovative process that also produces 50-60% less carbon emissions than conventional dyeing methods.
Abel Kirui will also run in the Nike Flyknit Racer shoe, featuring a revolutionary technology that enables running shoe uppers to be designed from knitted threads, these are precisely engineered for structure and superior lightweight performance while minimizing material waste during the production process.
“Elite athletes demand high performance technology that delivers every time they train and race” says Martin Lotti, Olympics, Global Design Director. “The recycled fabric and water-free dye process we have used for the Kenya singlet is the perfect combination of lightweight performance and low environmental impact.”
The Kenya singlet also features Nike Dri-FIT technology that helps to regulate athletes’ temperatures while running by drawing sweat away from the body and through the fabric to help keep athletes dry and cool. Bonded seams on the singlet provide a seamless fit to minimize distractions.