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Nike’s Flyleather is criticized by animal rights group

By Vivian Hendriksz

Sep 20, 2017

Sportswear leader Nike proudly unveiled its latest innovation in material earlier this week, namely ’Flyleather’. The new ‘super’ material is said to be both sustainable as well as premium, as it is made from at least 50 percent recycled natural leather fibre, as well as water power.

Nike claims that the new material has the potential to revolutionise the industry as its Nike Flyknit did when it was launched in 2012, as it sees Nike using discarded leather scraps from the floor of tanneries and using them together with synthetic fibre to create a new material. Up to 30 percent of a cow’s hide is discarded during a typical leather manufacturing process according to Nike, but its new innovative material takes waste scraps to create something new.

However animal rights organisations PETA argues that this innovative material is still harmful to the planet as it still uses real leather. “Consumers beware: Half of Nike’s Flyleather is made from the skins of sensitive cows who didn’t want to die—the same struggling animals from the same bloody tanneries that produce any other leather, with nothing “recycled” about it,” said Tracy Reiman, PETA Executive Vice President. “PETA urges Nike to embrace the vegan half of Flyleather and switch entirely to high-performance, sustainable vegan leather.”

The sportswear giant argues that Flyleather uses 90 percent less water and has a 80 percent lower carbon footprint than traditional leather manufacturing, which has the second-highest environmental impact on Nike’s carbon emissions and water usage. One pair of Nike Flyleather shoes is said to have half the carbon footprint as a pair of shoes make from traditional leather and as the material is produced on a roll it creates less waste than traditional leather.

However because the new material also consists of a blend of natural and synthetic fibres, it makes it more difficult to recycle the fibres used to make Flyleather once more, raising questions concerning the sustainable nature of the material.

Photo: Nike Flyleather tennis shoes