During Earth Week a few weeks ago, there was a shoe drive on campus. Fifty shoes were collected during the week.
The program comes from Nike Shoe, and since 1990 they have globally collected over 25,056,779 pairs of shoes. They have collected so many shoes that you could "create a chain of athletic shoes that goes all the way around the world more than five times"! By collecting all of these old shoes and putting them to use in other ways, there is a decrease in the amount of virgin rubber and other materials. The recycled shoes can be used to build new courts (such as tennis and basketball), tracks, fields, and playgrounds. Nike's next goal is to be able to recycle sports shoes, apparel, and equipment back into new Nike products.
Their US facility that recycles the shoes is located in Memphis, Tennessee. They use a "slice-and-grind" process which separates the shoe into three parts: rubber outsole, foam midsole, and fiber uppers. The three pieces are fed through grinders and then purified. The shoes rubber outsole is used in playground surfaces, track surfaces, interlocking gym flooring tiles, and even some new Nike products. In addition, the rubber is also used in trim for things like buttons and zipper pulls. The foam comes from the midsole of the shoe and is used as a cushion for outdoor basketball and tennis courts. The upper part of the shoe, the fiber, is used for cushioning pads for things like wood courts and indoor synthetic courts. These are all just examples of uses. There are many other uses that I have not covered.
So you may be asking yourself, how do I recycled these shoes so I can help make an impact? Well there are over 300 locations in the US that have bins available for drop offs. Here in Ohio, you can take your old shoes to Aurora, Jeffersonville, or Monroe. Or you can even organize a group shoe drive for your school, youth organization, or nonprofit organization. Any brand of athletic shoes can be recycled along with LIVESTRONG bracelets. They cannot accept cleats, dress shoes, shoes with metal, sandals, other type of wristbands, and flip-flops (however, check Old Navy out for their recycled flip-flop program).
For more information and a quick video, check out http://www.nikereuseashoe.com/