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SportSG, Dow tie-up aims to recycle 170,000 used pairs of sports shoes a year into jogging tracks, playgrounds

SINGAPORE — A short-term project launched last year to recycle used sports shoes into material for building sports facilities such as jogging tracks, playgrounds and fitness corners is being made permanent.

SportSG, Dow tie-up aims to recycle 170,000 used pairs of sports shoes a year into jogging tracks, playgrounds

One of the bins (right) to be used to collect used sports shoes that will be recycled into jogging tracks and other facilities.

SINGAPORE — A short-term project launched last year to recycle used sports shoes into material for building sports facilities such as jogging tracks, playgrounds and fitness corners is being made permanent.

The initiative, described as a "first of its kind" in the Asia-Pacific region, is a tie-up between national sports agency Sport Singapore (SportSG) and leading American materials science company Dow.

In an announcement on Tuesday (June 22), SportSG and Dow said that a permanent shoe waste collection programme will be established, to start operations on July 5.

Members of the public may drop off their used sports shoes in orange-top bins at any of the 100 collection points across Singapore, including participating ActiveSG sport centres and stadiums, Decathlon stores, schools and tertiary institutions.

The project, which aims to recycle 170,000 pairs of used sports shoes a year, builds on the nationwide success of the earlier project from September to November last year, which saw more than 75,000 pairs of shoes collected. This equated to about 3.3km of jogging track built.

Speaking at a virtual event to announce the project, Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, said: “We see waste not as something to be thrown away, but as a precious resource to be harvested.

“By making sustainability a part of our everyday lives, we can turn old shoes into a better future.” 

Mr Lim Teck Yin, chief executive officer of SportSG, said that the response to the project last year was encouraging and “demonstrates that Singaporeans are willing to join up if they can appreciate the meaningfulness of their participation”.

“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,” he added.

Mr Jon Penrice, Dow president for the Asia-Pacific, said: “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, and 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.”

In a joint media release, SportSG and Dow noted that “used sports shoes will form a permanent collect-for-recycling waste stream in Singapore, which will help reduce the load on and extend the lifespan of Semakau, the country’s only offshore landfill”.

The collaboration also involves partners such as BT Sports, Alba WH, Decathlon and Standard Chartered Bank.

The rubberised soles and midsoles from the used shoes are ground into rubber granules, which can then be used as a material to build sports infrastructure.

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