Leading materials science company Dow (NYSE: Dow) and national sports agency Sport Singapore (SportSG) today announced the establishment of a permanent shoe waste collection ecosystem, which aims to recycle 170,000 pairs of used sports shoes per annum. This collaboration also involves partners such as B.T. Sports, Alba WH, Decathlon and Standard Chartered Bank.

Starting July 5, 2021, 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.

Speaking at a virtual MOU signing, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, Ms 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.”

The ecosystem builds upon the nationwide success of the ‘Others see an old shoe. We see the future.’ project in 2020, which saw more than 75,000 pairs of shoes collected, equating to approximately 3.3km of jogging track built.

SportSG CEO, Mr Lim Teck Yin, said, “The response to efforts under the ‘Others see an old shoe. We see the future.’ project has been 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. 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 ‘first of its kind’ in Asia Pacific, the ecosystem will see rubberised and elastomeric shoe waste recycled into infrastructure materials for sports facilities such as jogging tracks, playgrounds and fitness corners.

“We are proud to partner with SportSG to make what has been a successful pilot project a permanent reality. 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,” said Jon Penrice, Dow President for Asia Pacific. 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.” This project aligns with Dow’s long-standing commitment to tackling sustainability challenges, including its recently announced target to Stop the Waste and enable 1 million metric tons of plastic to be collected, reused or recycled through direct actions and partnerships by 2030.

Members of the public can give a second life to their used sports shoes and contribute to building new sports surfaces and infrastructure at any of the 100 targeted collection points including participating ActiveSG sport centres and stadiums, Decathlon stores, schools and tertiary institutions, and more all over Singapore.

This circular economy project collects used sports shoes, school shoes and football boots without metal studs from the general public. The rubberized soles and midsoles are then ground into rubber granules that are used as a material to build sports infrastructure, partially replacing hazardous recycled tires. A water-based and solvent-free binder technology then binds the granules together. The result is environmentally friendlier and safer sports infrastructure for users delivered through partners collaborating for a more sustainable future.


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