From July 5, public can donate sports shoes for recycling at 100 collection points in S'pore

The new initiative aims to collect and recycle 170,000 pairs of shoes annually.
The new initiative aims to collect and recycle 170,000 pairs of shoes annually.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - From July 5, the public here will be able to donate and recycle their sports shoes at 100 collection points islandwide, including participating ActiveSG sport centres and stadiums, Decathlon stores, schools and tertiary institutions.

The new initiative aims to collect and recycle 170,000 pairs of shoes annually and these will be used as infrastructure materials for sports facilities such as jogging tracks, playgrounds and fitness corners.

This comes after a similar project last year by Sport Singapore and material science company Dow which saw more than 75,000 pairs of shoes collected between September and December.

That would equate to approximately 3.3km of jogging track that can be built.

At the virtual memorandum of understanding signing on Tuesday (June 22), Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu said: "We are adopting a circular economy approach towards the management of waste in Singapore. We see waste not as something to be thrown away, but as a precious resource to be harvested."

Sports shoes, school shoes, football boots without metal studs, and rubberised slippers and sandals without metal parts are all eligible for donation.

According to a report by market research company Statista, an estimated 22 million pairs of shoes are sold in Singapore yearly.

The National Environment Agency has said previously that 137,000 tonnes of textile and leather waste were generated in Singapore in 2020, of which only four per cent was recycled.

National agency SportSG said the shoe recycling project will help reduce the load on and extend the lifespan of Semakau, the country's only offshore landfill. It is expected to be fully filled by 2035.

SportSG's chief executive Lim Teck Yin said last year's project was encouraging and "demonstrates that Singaporeans are willing to join up if they can appreciate the meaningfulness of their participation".

He added: "Public-private-partnerships like ours thus have an important role to play in identifying easy opportunities for participation and to make workable real-world sustainability solutions accessible to the masses.

"Over time, efforts like these will bring about fundamental behavioural shifts in the sport ecosystem that will help champion a greener and more sustainable Singapore."

A team of research and development experts from Dow and Dow's business partner B.T. Sports perfected the process over six months last year.

The rubberised soles and midsoles will be ground into granules which will then be bound together by a water-based and solvent-free binder technology.

Jon Penrice, Dow President for Asia Pacific, said: "We are proud to partner with SportSG... Such collaboration with partners across the value chain is critical in moving from a make-use-dispose society to a circular economy in Singapore and we are glad to play a role in helping that happen, completely rethinking what can be done with waste that was previously simply sent to landfills.

"We are delighted to see this project have a real impact here in Singapore and see the potential for it to scale significantly in the future."

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