How Dow’s shoe recycling pledge veered off track

STORY: At a rundown market in Indonesia, Reuters correspondent Joe Brock is following the bleeping sound of a tracking device.

It takes him to a mound of second-hand shoes.

There they are – the blue Nike running shoes that he fitted with a tracker months before so that he could follow their journey.

This market is not where they’re supposed to end up.

They were supposed to be recycled into playgrounds and jogging tracks, as promised by the Singapore government and U.S. petrochemicals giant Dow.

Let’s rewind several months to unpack where this promise went wrong.

Joe Brock, Reuters Special Correspondent: “What we’re doing today is we’re finding out what happens to your recycling. Dow, a big petrochemicals company, U.S. firm, has teamed up with the Singapore government, in a scheme to recycle pairs of shoes. They say they’re going to take any shoe, which has a rubber sole, grind it down, and turn it into running tracks, and playgrounds. So we want to see if that’s what they’re really doing.”

“So what I’m going to do is that I’m going cut a cavity hole in the sole of each pair of shoes, one of the shoes of each pair, place the tracker in there. We’re going to then cover it up.”

“I’m going to take this tracker and I’m going to sync it up with my phone. There it goes. It’s coming up there. And I’m just going to call this ‘Shoe 1.’ And now once we put that in the shoe, we drop it off, and we’ll be able to see wherever it goes in the world.”

“So Dow and Sport Singapore have set up dozens of locations around the country where you can drop off your shoes. We’re going to go to ten different spots and drop

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