Reuters investigation raises serious doubts over authenticity of Dow’s Singapore shoe recycling program

(R) Reuters reporter Joe Brock retrieved this pair of sneakers from a shop in Batam, Indonesia on 8 Dec 2022. (L) Months earlier he had donated them to a Singapore recycling project that was supposed to turn them into spongy material to build playgrounds and running tracks. He traced their movement with a tracking device. REUTERS/Yuddy Budiman

SINGAPORE — A Reuters investigation has raised serious questions about a shoe recycling program launched by chemical company Dow in partnership with the Singapore government, which aims to recycle the rubberized soles and midsoles of donated shoes to build new playgrounds and running tracks in Singapore.

The investigation by the international news agency, which was published on Sunday (25 Feb), comes as environmental groups say chemical companies are making exaggerated or false claims about recycling to burnish their green credentials and undermine proposed regulations to rein in the soaring production of plastics used in single-use packaging and fast fashion.

In 2020, the National sports agency Sport Singapore (SportSG) announced a pioneering partnership with Dow, a major producer of chemicals, to transform shoes contributed by members of the community into jogging tracks, fitness corners, and playgrounds. The ‘Others see an old shoe. We see the future.’ project aims to recycle 300,000 pairs of used sports shoes and divert them away from the landfill.  Initially, the project was meant to run for only three years but was turned into a permanent used shoes collection drive in 2021.

All shoes donated by Reuters ended being exported

To test if the project works as it should, Reuters deposited 11 pairs of shoes in donation bins around Singapore over a six-month period.

All the footwear was placed in different donation barrels around Singapore between 14 July and 9 September last year.

GPS trackers were placed in all

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