Nike’s ISPA Link trainers are made modular for easier recycling

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva


As part of its shift towards renewable design, Nike has unveiled two footwear models from its ISPA division, the ISPA Link and the ISPA Link Axis.

ISPA stands for “improvising, scavenge, protect, and adapt”. This is also the sportswear giant’s design division which works to create sustainable solutions to design problems, break moulds, and reimagine products. 

The ISPA link and ISPA Link Axis are modular sneakers designed to be taken apart. Each shoe is made of pegs that slot into openings in the upper part that covers the food. 

Because of the footwear’s modular design, each part of the sneakers can be reused and made into new shoes at the end of its life, making recycling easier.

In addition, the parts for each model are constructed from eco-friendly materials, including TPU cages made from 20 per cent recycled materials, the Flyknit upper derived from recycled polyester that is repurposed into yarns, and 10 per cent recycled EVA sock liners. 

“This shoe has reduced emissions quite considerably,” said Darryl Matthews, VP of product footwear design, Nike. “It only takes eight minutes to make a shoe. It’s our first step in understanding how we can get to a circular process of recyclability in footwear products.”

Matthews added that making shoes in this way will reduce emissions by eliminating energy-intensive processes such as heating and cooling tunnels and glue lines.

“Shoes with glue take large amounts of energy to recycle because they need to be shredded, but with fewer materials used and the less they’re intermingled, the more efficient disassembly becomes,” Nike said in a release.

The Nike ISPA Link will launch next month, while the ISPA Link Axis will be released next year.

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva

A digital content manager based in the Philippines, Kaycee Enerva has written for multiple publications over several years. A graduate of Computer Science, she exchanged a career in IT to pursue her passion for writing. She's slowly practicing sustainability through period cups, and eating more plant-based food.