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Old school shoes given new life with recycling program

Local News

As Queensland students return to school this week, many kids are walking through the school gates in new shoes. But what about those old school shoes?

Rather than throw away the old pairs of shoes, sneakers and boots, parents are being encouraged to reuse or recycle with an exciting recycling program. It’s all about helping reduce the growing pile of waste from unwanted footwear.

There’s a lot of time and energy that goes into creating shoes, says Australian Sporting Goods Association executive director Shaun Bajada.

“But when we finish, having them in the ground for 1,000 years really isn’t the way to go,” he says.



Research reveals shoe waste is an environmental problem

According to new research commissioned by the association, around 73 per cent of parents want to reduce their environmental footprint. However, more than half admit to throwing old shoes in the bin.

Only one in 10 parents (11 per cent) drop their shoes off for recycling.

“Our research quantifies the number of children’s shoes that are collecting dust or end up in the rubbish because parents don’t know what else to do with them,” Mr Bajada says.

He says recycling your old shoes gives them a new life as useful products instead of throwing them in the bin and contributing to landfill.


Education is the key

Mr Bajada says more education will help parents understand what can and cannot be recycled. He says the national shoe recycling initiative, TreadLightly, has been created to combat shoe waste.

The program is a collaboration between the ASGA and recycled flooring manufacturer Save Our Soles. It’s received funding from the Federal government.

Consumers can drop off their old shoes at collection boxes around the country. The shoes are then transferred to recycling facilities in Queensland and Victoria, where they are broken down and turned into products like anti-fatigue mats, retail flooring and sporting surfaces.


Recycling gives new life to old shoes

Since TreadLightly commenced 18 months ago, more than 600,000 pairs of unwanted shoes have been collected and given new life.

In addition to sports shoes, the program now accepts school shoes and work boots that are no longer fit for purpose.

TreadLightly works closely with key Australian sporting and active lifestyle brands, including Shoes & Sox, Adidas, The Athletes Foot, Nike, New Balance, Platypus, SportsPower and Rebel Sport. You can find a full list of participating brands on the website.

Registrations are now open for the 2023 TreadLightly School Drive.


Fast facts

  • 110 million shoes make their way to Australia each year
  • 25 per cent of those shoes are sports shoes
  • 1,000 years is how long it takes for sports shoe components to decompose
  • TreadLightly has recycled more than 600,000 pairs of shoes
  • 500 collection points currently exist around Australia


Servicing Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and beyond, Kids on the Coast is an online guide for parents with kids events, attractions & things to do with kids, schools and education, school holiday guides, health & wellbeing for families, parenting and lifestyle news located on Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast & Brisbane, QLD. 


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By Angela Sutherland
After spending many years hustling stories on busy editorial desks around the world, Angela is now mum of two little ones and owner/editor at Kids on the Coast / Kids in the City. She is an atrocious cook and loves cutting shapes to 90s dance music. Angela is the editor of Kids on the Coast - a free family magazine whats on guide for Kids: things to do, school holiday fun and free activities for kids... Fun attractions, family food & travel, kids health & wellbeing, kids parties venues, parenting, pregnancy & babies, guide for parents. Servicing Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and beyond, Kids on the Coast is an online guide for parents with kids things to do with kids, schools and education and lifestyle news located on Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast & Brisbane, QLD.

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