Shooting for gold with “green jerseys” | PLANT

Nike adds recycled water bottles to its Olympic hockey uniforms.

December 10, 2013   by PLANT STAFF

The jerseys weigh just 448 grams, 15% lighter than the 2010 version thanks to the new material.

Team Canada’s hockey jerseys for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia may not be green in colour but the way they’re made certainly is.

The uniforms, released on Oct. 8, are a set of three in red, white and black with gold accenting and will be worn in competition by the men’s, women’s and sledge hockey teams. They’re manufactured by sportswear-giant Nike and weigh just 448 grams, which is 15% lighter than the team’s 2010 version thanks to a new polyester that’s produced from recycled plastic bottles.

The jerseys and socks are made from 73% recycled polyester; an initiative that’s part of Nike’s effort to reduce its environmental impact. Each jersey accounts for up to 17 recycled plastic water bottles, while a set of socks uses up to five.

The bottles are chopped into flakes, melted down and spun into yarn, which Nike says reduces energy consumption by up to 30% compared to manufacturing virgin polyester. Since 2010 the process has diverted more than 1.1 billion plastic bottles from landfill.

Nike’s collaboration with Hockey Canada took inspiration from the iconic designs of vintage Canadian jerseys – most notably the 1972 version worn in Canada’s heated Summit Series with the Soviet Union, which ended with an epic Team Canada victory.

Inside the collar, 12 gold maple leaves represent Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic gold medals – eight in men’s hockey, three in women’s and one in sledge.

So far the jerseys have garnered mixed reviews from critics, and have been the brunt of numerous jabs online. The simplicity of the logo on the red and white versions has been compared to Petro-Canada branding, and one Tweeter described the red armband on the black jersey as “vaguely German.” One blogger asked if leaked photos of the uniforms were an April Fool’s joke six-months late.

For the record, Nike’s lead designer told the National Post “Petro-Canada was not part of any of Nike’s design research.” And in Team Canada’s defence, Olympic rules prohibit teams from wearing anything that bears the logo of its national sports federation. It will, however, be the only team to wear three uniforms at the Sochi Winter Games.

Nike, which is based near Beaverton, Ore., will also produce Olympic hockey team jerseys and socks for Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Russia and Team USA.

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This article appears in the Nov./Dec. 2013 issue of PLANT.

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