Nike’s Restricted Substance List (RSL), established in 2001, is a list of chemicals banned or restricted in our products.  In 2018, we launched the Chemistry Playbook, which provides a history of chemistry at Nike, our approach moving forward and includes our Restricted Substances List.

We review and update the list as new chemistry alternatives become available, new regulations are passed and Nike’s corporate commitments expand. Our RSL chemical standards meet or exceed regulatory and legislative requirements around the world, and include substances that we’ve voluntarily restricted from our products. 

Our suppliers must comply with these restrictions. Any material that fails our RSL test is considered defective and prevented from entering production.

In 2017, Nike aligned with the AFIRM group RSL chemical limits. This move is a milestone for the industry in driving change across the supply chain. 

We’ve worked with the industry to address chemical use further up the value chain through the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals Foundation (ZDHC). The ZDHC has developed a Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL) for facilities that process textiles, leather, and synthetic leather. Nike has adopted the ZDHC’s MRSL and provides information and training to vendors and suppliers about sourcing, use, and discharge of chemicals. 

We’ve also worked with the ZDHC to develop, adopt and launch new Wastewater Guidelines, which map out a unified set of expectations on wastewater quality for the entire textile and footwear industry. We enforce ZDHC requirements through supply agreements that include adherence to Nike’s RSL as well as our Code of Conduct, which includes health and safety standards that cover safe handling and use of chemicals. 

We’re increasing our focus and efforts in early stages of the materials supply chain, including dyeing and finishing operations, as those processes carry some of the greatest chemical use and, therefore, the greatest opportunity for minimizing impact on our environment.

New Approaches

To gain greater visibility and drive accountability, Nike undertook a Chemical Data Transparency pilot project in Taiwan in 2015, by asking suppliers to measure and share their performance against the ZDHC MRSL. The project focused on data and measurement standards, which resulted in improved transparency regarding suppliers chemical use and provided insights to Nike and the industry at large. 

In 2019, Nike has rolled out an industry tool “CleanChain” with our strategic suppliers to measure and evaluate ZDHC MRSL compliance.

Measuring Wastewater

We measure factories’ freshwater withdrawals and wastewater quality through self-reported data.

For Chinese facilities, we also monitor wastewater compliance through the China Pollution Map Database, developed by the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE), to screen facilities in China for wastewater violations. 

Of the 811 facilities that actively report their wastewater to us in some capacity, 99% were compliant, at a minimum, with local regulations in FY15.

New Wastewater Discharge Reporting Requirements 

In late 2016, Nike, along with the ZDHC, adopted new Wastewater Discharge Quality Guidelines for suppliers.

In early 2017, Nike shared these guidelines and our expectations for reporting with relevant suppliers. 


    We're committed to making products in ways that protect consumers, workers and the environment.

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    We seek to work with vendors and suppliers who are committed to high standards and continuous improvement.

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    We work across our industry to implement and scale chemistry standards throughout global supply chains.

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