Dow’s Singapore Sneaker Recycling Program Sees Shoes End Up For Sale – Sourcing Journal

A new report claims a shoe recycling program has failed to turn old shoes into useful new products.

A program developed by materials science company Dow and the Singapore government pledged to recycle materials used in industrial applications, including playgrounds and running tracks. But Reuters tracked 11 pairs of donated running shoes with hidden devices and found they were far from their intended destination, raising questions of greenwashing.

Donated between July 14-Sept. At various locations across Singapore, Reuters tracked the shoes’ six-month journey. The couples were first incorporated into Yok Impex Pte Ltd. traced, a Singaporean used goods exporter who says it was hired to retrieve shoes from the program’s donation bins and ship them to a local warehouse. But while Reuters continued to track the shoes on their journey, the pairs traveled to different locations in Singapore and Indonesia – some to street bazaars for sale and others to remote locations that reporters couldn’t access.

“Although the sample was small, the fact that none of these shoes made it to a recycling facility in Singapore underscores the system’s weaknesses,” Reuters reporters wrote. The results were shared with Dow earlier this year, and the petrochemical manufacturer announced in mid-January that it was partnering with state agency Sport Singapore, French sporting goods retailer Decathlon, Standard Chartered Bank, ALBA W&H Smart City Pte. Ltd (Alba-WH), a Singapore-based waste disposal company, and BT Sports Pte Ltd, a local company tasked with shredding the shoes. Last week, Dow told Reuters on behalf of all partners that they would remove Yok Impex from the project once the investigation was complete.

Appearing the shoes on the Indonesian secondary market is also against the law. In 2015, Indonesia’s Ministry of Commerce banned imports of used clothing to manage hygiene and prevent disease while protecting the local textile industry from outside competition. A state official with the Office of Consumer Protection and Trade Control told Reuters that the used clothing and footwear import market is still worth millions annually. Meanwhile, bazaar vendors reported that pairs imported for sale routinely end up in the trash, adding to the country’s mounting litter problem.

However, according to Dow, Singapore’s shoe recycling project has improved. A sports facility is under construction using footwear material for the surfaces and a new football complex will feature a running track made from used footwear. The projects will use recycled material produced by the partnership, it said in January.

“The project partners stand by this important project, which is a recycling program that collects used shoes from the public for on-site processing into recycled footwear materials,” Dow spokesman Kyle Bandlow told Sourcing Journal . “We’ve started to see infrastructure builds resulting from the nearly 10,000 kilograms (22,000 pounds) of footwear materials recycled so far, including the Kallang Football Hub and a sports facility under construction in Jurong Town.”

Bandlow added that the project partners “will not tolerate any unauthorized removal or export of shoes collected under this program” and confirmed that the parties involved will no longer be working with Yok Impex. “The partners are in the process of recruiting another company to collect the shoes as part of this shoe recycling project and are committed to ensuring the integrity of the collection and recycling process,” he said.

In its report, Reuters detailed previous investigations into Dow’s materials recycling programs, including an Idaho-based program that claimed to use advanced technology to convert plastic waste into clean fuel, and an Indian effort that aimed to do the same with garbage from the Ganges. Reuters said waste from the first project was incinerated to power a cement plant and the latter was shut down due to ongoing equipment malfunctions. Dow’s Singapore Sneaker Recycling Program Sees Shoes End Up For Sale – Sourcing Journal

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