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Can Sneakers, Walking & Running Shoes be Recycled?

Footwear production saw a 2.7% rise in recent years, reaching a total shoe production of up to 24.2 billion pairs. As the world’s footwear industry grows, consumers start waste initiatives and wonder if shoes can walk the path of recycling.

We always look for eco-friendly ways to dispose of worn-out running shoes and sneakers. But can you recycle old shoes easily in Australia? Read on to discover a handful of options you can follow.

Shoe Recycling in Sydney

Unlike recycling paper or glass, you cannot throw your old sneakers in kerbside recycling bins because of contaminants that are difficult to isolate from the material during the recycling process. Running shoes with specialised soles may also require a unique recycling method and should not go with other recyclables in kerbside bins.

Even if the pair of used shoes sneak into recycling facilities, employees in the facility will sort out and remove the shoes from the batch. However, other recycling options are available to help you keep your old shoes and trainers from getting landfilled.

1. Donating Old Pair of Shoes to Charity

Thousands of local charities, not-for-profits, and orphanages in Sydney accept used men’s and women’s shoes. If your used pair is still in good condition, consider donating them to the less fortunate.

You can find charity shoe drop bins at your local charity or retail centre. We recommend tying the shoes together to stay together during transportation and sorting.

Not only can you donate shoes, but you can also donate books, furniture and mattress and bedding goods. Please make sure you are informed about your options before throwing goods that can be reused away!

2. Sell your old shoes if Possible

For many Aussies and Sydneysiders, shoes are investments (check out sneakers and running shoe buying guides so you know exactly what they’re all about first). If you’re looking to make a quick buck on your precious pair, you can keep them and then resell them at a later date. 

Many dedicated shoe reseller platforms and vendors have opened up in the past 5 years, allowing you to resell your shoes easily.

Not only will you earn some money, but you can also efficiently declutter your home by selling preloved sneakers. Besides, the buyer also gets a great bargain by buying second-hand shoes in pristine condition.

Send them to Shoe Banks

If your active lifestyle shoes are worn out and cannot be worn anymore, we advise not to donate them or list them for sale. Instead, you can send them off to shoe banks, specialised facilities that will recover all textile recyclables from shoes and process them into useful materials.

Many local shoe banks accept different footwear types such as:

  • Sneakers
  • Trainers
  • Athletic lifestyle shoes
  • Any branded shoes
  • Football shoes
  • Running shoes
  • Slides
  • Golf shoes

Where Can I Send My Preloved Shoes?

A handful of charities and shoe banks accept old trainers, sneakers, active lifestyle shoes, and everyday shoes for donation and recycling.

Here’s a list of local charities that accept shoe donations:

The said organisations and charities aim to provide footwear to the less fortunate and will also accept shoe parts such as laces and insoles. All of them are non-profit organisations working with local and international companies to mobilise their vision of providing shoes to those in need..

Furthermore, check out the following recycling programs offered and supported by the largest footwear brands in Australia:

The Save our Soles initiative took off last 2020 and is currently partnering with leading sports brands such as SportsPower, Adidas, New Balance, ASICS, Converse, and JD Sports.

These shoe recycling programs share a common vision which is to:

  • Develop a scalable system for active lifestyle shoe recycling program in Australia
  • Take out at least 100 tonnes of preloved footwear for repurposing
  • Minimise the environmental impact of the footwear production industry

Final Thoughts

As shoes are made of complex synthetic composites and textile, they are unsuitable for general recycling facilities that process recyclable rubbish. But that doesn’t mean the end of your footwear recycling journey.

You can always donate your old trainers, sell preloved men’s or women’s sneakers, and send your active lifestyle footwear to shoe recycling facilities. That way, you’re contributing to our general mission of curbing as much waste from landfills as we can.

Our qualified Sydney rubbish removalists offer same-day rubbish removal services to help you declutter your property and recycle as much household waste or office waste as possible. Contact us at 0407 125 125‬ , wherever you are in Sydney, for your next recycling and decluttering project.

Sarah Ann

Sarah Ann

Sarah Ann is a Digital Content Writer for Paul's Rubbish Removal. Sarah is a huge advocate for recycling, environmental sustainability, health and well-being and has a genuine love for all sea animals. Keep up with Sarah by following Paul's Rubbish Removal blog!

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