Ad Alert

Nike’s ‘Sustainability’ Collection

Lawsuit accuses retailer of greenwashing.

Ad Alert

Nike’s ‘Sustainability’ Collection

Greenwashing: Just don’t do it.

A class-action lawsuit filed earlier this month against Nike accuses the company of misleading consumers on the environmental impact of its products.

The lawsuit alleges the retailer markets shoes, clothing and accessories in its “Sustainability” collection as sustainable and environmentally friendly when the vast majority of the products are made from synthetic, plastic-based materials that harm the environment.

“The limited number of Nike ‘Sustainability’ Collection Products that actually contain any recycled materials are primarily made of recycled polyester and recycled nylon,” the lawsuit claims. “But neither of those materials are sustainable and/or environmentally friendly.”

The lawsuit continues, citing additional environmental claims at issue:

Recycled polyester and recycled nylon are still plastic, so they are not biodegradable. Once you dispose of the materials, they sit in a landfill for hundreds of years. They are not “sustainable” and do not “reduce waste and our carbon footprint.” Nor do they support a “Move To Zero carbon and zero waste.”

The lawsuit alleges the products also contribute to microplastic pollution in the ocean, which harms not only marine life but also humans as microplastics make their way up the food chain.

In the “Sustainability” section of its website, Nike says it shares in “the responsibility for our playground—Planet Earth. That’s why we’re reimagining things top to bottom through sustainability and circularity,” which keeps the product in the supply chain.

But according to the lawsuit, more than 90 percent of the products in the Sustainability collection are not made with recycled materials (and as alleged above those that are wind up in the landfill anyway).

The bottom line

U.S. consumers are spending more than $120 billion a year on products marketed as sustainable. But with no federal definition for the green marketing term, companies have come up with their own criteria for what sustainable means, giving rise to a flood of lawsuits.

Last month, in response to its request for public comments as it reviews its Green Guides, filed a comment with the FTC urging the agency to, among other things, address the rampant use of false and misleading sustainability claims. reached out to Nike for comment. Check back for updates.

Find more of our coverage on sustainable claims here.

Our Ad Alerts are not just about false and deceptive marketing issues, but may also be about ads that, although not necessarily deceptive, should be viewed with caution. Ad Alerts can also be about single issues and may not include a comprehensive list of all marketing issues relating to the brand discussed.

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