Shoe Recycling Australia 👟 – Is Such A Thing Possible?
Shoe Recycling Australia 👟: I have already discussed the possibility of recycling clothes – a type of textile – recycling. Long story short, it is possible. But what about shoe recycling here in Australia? Can you recycle your old trainers easily? Read on to learn more.
In the latest 2018 data, World Footwear stated that worldwide shoe production reached 24.2 billion pairs; that is a lot of shoes! Sadly, they usually either go to landfill or incineration facilities when disposed of.
The main reason for that, of course, convenient options are somewhat scarce in Australia when it comes to shoe recycling. Nonetheless, you still have a number of options that you can do, albeit with a bit of research and effort.
A bit about Waster
Before I discuss shoe recycling in Australia, let me share with you more information about Waster.
We here at Waster provide you with innovative solutions for your and your business’s waste management and recycling needs. Furthermore, we provide flexible, 30-day contracts instead of the typical lock-in contracts, which proves to be better.
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Tips on shoe recycling in Australia
We always want to find an environmentally friendly way to dispose of our worn-out items. Shoes are no different. Recycling them might seem a little difficult because, unlike glass or cardboard, you cannot put shoes in your kerbside recycling bin.
But there are other available recycling options you can do to get them out of your hands in a responsible way. In the following sections, I will discuss everything about shoe recycling in Australia and what we can do to avoid it going into landfills.
Why you should recycle your shoes
There are many benefits to recycling your old, worn-out shoes. By doing so, you can reduce the waste that goes into a landfill. According to The University of Queensland Australia, 20 million tonnes of garbage ends up in hundreds of landfills each year in Australia.
Obviously, that is very alarming. So, it is only natural to recycle your discarded items – in this case, your old trainers or shoes – to prevent them from going into a landfill. If they do go into a landfill, it will surely harm the environment. It may take 1,000 years before a shoe completely decomposes.
Additionally, shoe recycling in Australia also lets us save our natural resources. As we may all know, manufacturing an item requires the use of raw materials. But these raw, natural resources are limited in number. So, we have recycling as the best option to reduce the need for using such materials.
And finally, one more reason we should recycle shoes is that by doing this, we lessen our carbon footprint on Earth. From its production up until its deployment, carbon dioxide is released in great numbers; by recycling our shoes, we lessen that greatly.
Speaking of carbon footprint, have you heard of Waster’s charitable partnership with Greenfleet? We decided to help in reducing carbon emissions by teaming up with them! Check it out and read it on our official website.
How shoe recycling in Australia works
As I have stated above, you cannot put your old, worn-out shoes in the kerbside recycling bin like glass or cardboard materials because it might contaminate a whole batch of recyclables. And even if you do put them there, employees of recycling facilities will have already sorted out the items present there and removed the shoes.
There are a number of ways how a shoe is recycled when you send them to different companies or organisations. These include:
- Donating them to charity. If the shoes are still in good condition, they can donate them to the less fortunate. You can sell them off to charity shops or drop them off at a charity shoe recycling bin, if available. Just a quick tip: tie the pair of shoes together so they will not get separated.
- Sell them if possible. Why not make a quick buck and sell your shoes? If they are still in pristine condition, you can also opt to sell them to others. It is a win-win situation if you do so, really: you declutter your home and earn some money whilst the other gets a good bargain (i.e., a lower price) buying your shoes.
- Put them in shoe banks. If they are in no condition to be re-used (i.e., they are worn out and cannot be worn anymore), it is best not to donate them for re-use. What you could do instead is to bring them to shoe banks. The workers there will recover all the textile recyclable parts of the shoes and turn them into something we all can use.
Where can I send my shoes?
Fortunately, there are a number of recycling programs available to choose from if you want to dispose of your shoe items or trainers here in Australia.
The first example is a famous program known all throughout the world: Nike’s recycling program. Basically, what they do is take materials from old, worn-out shoe materials and recycle them. This all started in 1990 when Nike began coming up with ways on how to lessen its impact on the environment.
There are available Nike Reuse-A-Shoe drop-off locations all over North America and Europe. In Australia, there are Nike Reuse-A-Shoe bins located at Rebel Sports Stores.
Is that the only option available?
But that is not just the option available; there are still other options to choose from. If you go and search in Planet Ark’s Recycling Near You, you will find a program specifically for shoe recycling: Shoes For Planet Earth.
They are a non-profit organisation working for both the local and international communities and companies to provide shoes to less fortunate people. If you live in either NSW, VIC or QLD, there you can find Shoes For Planet Earth drop-off locations. Additionally, they also accept shoe parts such as insoles and laces.
Another option you have if you want to send away your shoes for recycling is by sending them to Boots for All. This organisation is a sporting good recycling charity and also a social enterprise retail store selling new (but discarded/heading for landfill) and upcycled sporting footwear, clothing and equipment. Since 2006, they have collected new & near-new sporting goods for redistribution to children & adults in need across Australia to increase their fitness & active participation in sports.
In addition, they also operate Australia’s first social enterprise sports store – Sport for All which provides training & employment pathways for people with barriers to employment. We suggest that you go to their website to learn more about them and give them a try!
More on Shoes For Planet Earth
Of course, you have to meet a certain amount of conditions before trying to recycle your shoes by sending them to Shoes For Planet Earth. You cannot just send shoes without thinking, after all! Below, we state some of the conditions you have to keep in mind.
- Take note that they only accept trainer shoes (i.e., sports shoes). For example, they will accept basketball shoes, tennis shoes and running shoes used for jogging etc. If you intend on sending them other than the type of shoes, then you probably should think again. It will not get recycled and will only be a source of frustration to them if they see any other types of shoes such as leather shoes.
- Obviously, you should make sure that your shoes are in tip-top, pristine condition. Clean them thoroughly before sending them to Shoes For Planet Earth. Doing so will really ensure that they will accept and recycle your trainers.
- Also, make sure to check out the inside of your shoes. They might have holes or are in a bad condition wherein they cannot be used. You can only send them, as mentioned above, to Shoes For Planet Earth if they are in a good condition.
- Clean the shoe laces and make sure that the inner soles are intact as well. This will make your shoes more comfortable to wear and look good as new.
Remember these as well!
- Do not – I repeat – do not send just one shoe! You might think that it is okay, but it is definitely not. No one can only use one shoe. So if you decide to send them to Shoes For Planet Earth, make sure that you send a pair of shoes.
- Doubling down the above statement, make sure you send shoes that truly pair together. Do not send two different types of shoes without their pair as this will only mess with the sorters at Shoes For Planet Earth.
- Just a tip: tie your shoes together so they do not get separated. This will immensely help the organisation and reduce stress and frustration from having to sort through numerous shoes.
A new shoe recycling initiative In Australia
There came another new initiative last 2020 called the Save Our Soles Initiative by ASGA. This initiative prompted ASGA to partner up with prominent brands SportsPower, Rebel, JD Sports, Adidas, New Balance, Converse, And ASICS to form an industry-led sports footwear recycling program.
They have clear-cut objectives that we will surely look forward to. They have already rolled out their Victorian pilot program, with the collection bins nearing deployment for an easier shoe recycling experience here in Australia.
Their objectives include the following statements:
- reduce the environmental impact of footwear sent to landfill each year;
- develop a scalable model for sports shoe recycling programs Australia-wide;
- develop a scalable model for sports shoe recycling programs Australia-wide;
- reclaim at least 100 tonnes of pre-used sports shoe material for repurposing
Check out their website highlighted above for more information.
ASGA’s TreadLightly program for your old, beaten-up shoes
Shoe recycling in Australia is further upgraded in 2023 now that the TreadLightly recycling initiative is here. Learn more about how you can recycle your old trainers through the TreadLightly program below.
Put simply, this recycling program or initiative that takes unwanted sport and active lifestyle footwear and responsibly recycles it to give it new life.
The eligible shoes you can recycle through the TreadLightly program include most sports shoes, school shoes, thongs, slides and even gumboots, which can be remade into new products including gym mats and flooring. No matter how dirty or worn-out they are, you can go ahead and send them.
A network of retailers across Australia acts as collection points for old shoes, which are then sent to Save our Soles, which shreds them. You can see the collection points here.
What are they turned into? Well, different materials such as metals and textile fluff are extracted and separated, with shoe waste blended with rubber from recycled tyres to make new products. Save our Soles says all material is collected, recycled and then manufactured in Australia.
Soles4Souls here in Australia is another opportunity for you to explore should you want to recycle your old trainers. They collect new, used and worn-out shoes, sandals and other footwear for children, women and men in need of them around the world (including Australia, of course). They have given more than 150,000 pairs of shoes in Australia and globally since 2011. This way, they help reduce waste from going into landfill and make a difference to those in need.
Although this organisation is still on an operational break, you can still send your shoes if you go to Victoria through the he Rotary Club of Frankston and Mount View Primary School in Glen Waverley.
From the Sole4Souls Australia’s Facebook Page:
Currently, you can donate your shoes at Mount View Primary School in Glen Waverly (Victoria) with the plan to add more sites in Victoria soon.
To donate shoes please contact Phil at:
0490 002 480
Aside from recycling shoes, what else can we do to keep them from landfills? Well… one solution that was thought of is to create recycled shoes or trainers made from waste materials.
One famous example is Adidas. In 2015, they partnered up with Parley for the Oceans to turn marine plastic pollution into shoes. These Adidas recycled shoes called Adidas Parley are from plastics found near coastal areas. They are collected and recycled before they go to the ocean and destroy marine life.
Aside from this, they have done other programmes dedicated to sustainability. These are the Take Back programs done all over the world. The program, as stated by Adidas, aims to “support their (consumer) desire for corrective action”. They will do so by providing a helpful way – in this case, the Take Back program – to give old sportswear and trainers a second life.
They will then reuse, recycle, or dispose of the old sportswear and trainers, depending on their respective conditions. Fortunately, less than 10 per cent of those products are disposed of either through going into a landfill or incineration, among many others.
They will continue with other noteworthy projects in the upcoming years. Adidas also plans to develop a 100 per cent recyclable shoe called the Futurecraft Loop, which is expected to be available by 2021.
Shoe recycling Australia: conclusion
Shoe recycling in… let’s say, Sydney – or all over Australia – is pretty much possible. Sports shoes or trainers, recycled dress shoes, or any other shoes can indeed be recycled. But, you cannot recycle them by putting them in the kerbside recycling bin. There are other ways how to recycle your shoes or trainers that I have stated above.
Waster: things you need to know
If you’re looking for various waste and recycling bins, check our waste recycling shop and find the best deals in terms of pricing and services.