About Circularity

Achieving circularity and a more sustainable world is a collective effort, strengthened by the expertise and commitment of many, and always evolving. This guide is not so different.

Circularity: Guiding the Future of Design was created in collaboration with the students and staff of Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, and with inspiration from Global Fashion Agenda, and insights from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Collectively, their candor, and passion, shared through countless conversations and work sessions small and large, informed a resource with wide reaching application. We are also grateful to have drawn on the expertise of Nike product creators across categories. Through multi-day workshops and individual interviews, they graciously offered their considerations and best practices to inform how we all might design and create for greater circularity. 

A special thanks to the industry leaders and innovators who generously allowed for their products, business models, and ideas to be featured in this guide as case studies. 

Join the movement. Send your ideas, resources, best practices, and ideas to circulardesign@nike.com

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Glossary of Terms

Bio-based material 

Materials synthesized from renewable, plant-based ingredients with the intent of avoiding environmental degradation and pollution. Most, but not all, bio-based materials are compostable or biodegradable.

Bio-degradable / biodegradability 

A material or product that will break down into elements found in nature within a reasonably short amount of time (1 year) when exposed to air, moisture, and microbes. Biodegradable does not specify level of toxicity, thus, for safe biodegradation the entire composition of a product or material must be non-toxic.

Circular Design 

The creation of products with the intent to design out waste, avoid negative environmental impact, and the use of material components that extend the products life and can be returned to the fashion system as valuable feedstock.


A material or product that will break down into elements found in nature within 180 days at an industrial composting facility releasing no toxic substances.


The recycling of a waste material or product where the resulting product is of lesser value or quality than the original.


A product or material that has served its intended consumer use and has been intercepted from a waste stream as a recovered material.

Pre-consumer / post-industrial 

A product or material intercepted as a recovered material after the manufacturing process that has been deemed as waste, unfit or was never used for its original consumer purpose/intent.


Product or material that can be collected and reprocessed/restored or regenerated through an established recycling program. 

Recycled Contents 

Contents of a new material or product in the form of recycled raw material, well used, reconditioned, and re-manufactured components that would have otherwise entered the waste stream.


The use of waste, excess material, or product in the design of a new product.


Interception of products and materials destined for the landfill and using them in the design of a product of increased value and purpose from the original. 


Resources or energy left over from the creation of process of a product as unusable excess or byproduct.