OPINION

TreadLightly recycling program stops runners going to landfill

RECYCLE: New research has revealed the average Australian owns about five pairs of shoes they don't wear. Picture: Shutterstock
RECYCLE: New research has revealed the average Australian owns about five pairs of shoes they don't wear. Picture: Shutterstock

Aussies love their sport but when it comes to recycling, we have to be on the same team.

More than 110 million shoes make their way to our shores each year.

A quarter of these are sports shoes and only one per cent are collected and recycled after use.

This is a national problem and a significant environmental concern as shoe components take more than 1000 years to breakdown.

Australians - including consumers and the wider industry - want to do more to reduce their environmental impact but often don't know where to start.

TreadLightly is a new national recycling initiative that makes it easier for everyone to do their bit for the planet.

TreadLightly, powered by the Australian Sporting Goods Association (ASGA) and recycler Save Our Soles (SOS), works closely with Australia's most popular sporting and active lifestyle brands including Nike, Platypus, Rebel Sport, SportsPower, FRANKiE4, Globe, JD Sports and many more.

TreadLightly takes unwanted sports and active lifestyle shoes and responsibly recycles them into mats and flooring for retail stores, gyms and playgrounds for everyone to enjoy.

TreadLightly is calling on Australians to help reach its goal of recycling more than one million pairs of shoes by 2023 - and save more than 400 tonnes of shoes going to landfill.

All you need to do is look around your home for any unwanted sports or active lifestyle shoes - from sneakers and trainers to golf shoes - and take them into one of the more than 400 participating retailers to be recycled as your state opens up.

New research reveals the average Australian owns about five pairs of shoes they don't wear - the shocking equivalent of 100 million unused shoes that could end up as landfill.

Nearly a quarter of Aussies (24 per cent) keep their old shoes, with many admitting it's for a rainy day or sentimental reasons - while half of respondents (51 per cent) confess to simply throwing their unwanted shoes in the garbage.

The survey also reveals women are more likely to keep shoes they don't wear, hoarding an average of seven pairs of shoes they don't use while men keep on average of three pairs.

More than half (53 per cent) of female participants admitted to buying shoes every six months or more - with most own an average of 11 pairs of shoes at any one time.

This research highlights just how many shoes are collecting dust at home, and how many shoes end up in the rubbish because we don't know what else to do with them.

When footwear is thrown out, not only do we miss the chance to divert tonnes of landfill, we miss out on the valuable opportunity to reclaim, recycle, repurpose and reuse.

The TreadLightly initiative demonstrates the many benefits of the circular economy.

Customers just need to drop off their shoes in store, shoes are then sent to a recycling plant here in Australia for sorting, breakdown and processing.

Reusable components are extracted at the recycling facility and the reclaimed materials are used to manufacture new products such as gym mats, floors and playgrounds.

Research also shows consumers want to do something about our nation's shoe problem, with more than two-thirds (78 per cent) of respondents said would recycle their old shoes if there was a shoe recycling program in their area.

TreadLightly exists to solve a very real industry issue.

We're committed to working closely with the wider community to reduce the industry's environmental footprint and to stop millions of shoes ending up as landfill every year.

By giving consumers, retailers and manufacturers the means to take real action, we're providing a local solution to the global waste problem and making it easier than ever before for us all to tread lightly.

TreadLightly sees the industry, and all of its players, taking responsibility for creating a more sustainable and environmentally-led community.

By working as a team to recycle one million pairs of sports footwear, we can ensure that Australia's love of sport has a more positive impact on the communities in which we live, work and play.

To help do your bit for the planet, visit treadlightly.asga.com.au to find your closest drop-off site.

Together, we can step into a better future.

  • Shaun Bajada, executive director, Australian Sporting Goods Association.
This story How to stop old shoes ending up in landfill first appeared on The Canberra Times.