Nike Setting Sail With ‘World First’ Watercraft

Nike is now in the shipping business.

The athleticwear company on Wednesday announced the launch of the “H₂ Barge 1,” a first-of-its-kind hydrogen-powered inland container ship that will transport Nike products between the Dutch city of Rotterdam and its Belgian logistics campus.

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According to Nike, the barge will facilitate a 2,000-ton emissions reduction for each year it is in use. Ja Morant’s sponsor has committed to reducing greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions across its global supply chain by 70 percent in owned and operated facilities and fleets, in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. It has also said key suppliers’ manufacturing and transport operations must maintain emissions at or below 2020 levels, no matter how much business grows. Nike aims to fully zero out its emissions by 2050.

The barge is fully powered by hydrogen, eliminating CO2 emissions.
The barge is fully powered by hydrogen, eliminating CO2 emissions.

The unveiling comes after Nike was cited by climate and public health group Ship it Zero as the top U.S. ocean import polluter—responsible for 87,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions—in 2021. While the H₂ Barge 1 is not equipped for ocean sailing, it is the only inland vessel anywhere to be powered by hydrogen, said Nike. It retrofitted the ship’s standard diesel-guzzling combustion engine with hydrogen-powered, emission-free technology. The vessel releases nothing but humid air and clean water and is “far quieter” than conventional diesel-fueled vessels, wasting less energy through hull vibrations and heat and offering what’s described as a more comfortable environment for the crew.

The watercraft will address regional emissions from ground transportation. According to Nike, 99 percent of containers going to its European logistics campus from within the continent are transported by water, replacing 14,000 truck journeys per year. In addition to the hydrogen-powered vessel, Nike is finalizing testing on hydrogen trucks for customer deliveries across Europe, and scaling its use of electric vans for deliveries in cities like Paris and London. The H₂ Barge 1 will launch in June in partnership with Dutch shipper Future Proof Shipping and hydrogen air provider Air Liquide. It will operate within BCTN’s inland terminal network.

Nike said it will use less air freight and align production schedules with ocean freight departures to curb emissions. It has shaved 1.6 million pounds from shipping cartons in another emissions-saving move, and is diversifying its distribution network to bring products closer to end markets.

Ironing out the kinks in both global and regional shipping is a work in progress, chief sustainability officer Noel Kinder said. “As we move toward 2025, our resolve is steady, and we’re in it for the long haul, committed to progress over perfection as we continue to create solutions and leverage our influence to build momentum and move the world forward through sport,” he said. “We know the odds of success increase when we approach a problem together with ingenuity and grit.”

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