How are Sneakers Recycled?
Some people may want to ask why sneakers are recycled, rather than ask how it’s done. But technology in the 21st century allows us to recycle almost every item we use. It’s no longer necessary to just throw stuff away. In fact, we have found that most of the manufactured items we use today don’t disintegrate and become part of the Earth again. As one fellow said years ago, there really is no “away.”
Sneakers, tennis shoes, running shoes – whatever you want to call them – are made of rubber and a lot of synthetic material that is not bio-degradable. Millions of people wear this type of shoe every day, which means there are a lot of worn-out sneakers finding their way into the landfill. This doesn’t have to be the case.
The rubber or synthetic sole of the sneaker can be broken down and recycled into other products. But it’s also possible to recycle the leather or synthetic part of the shoe – the upper – if the material is processed correctly.
Rubber soles and synthetic soles can be ground up into fine particles that will be used to manufacture foam filler material or to make new rubber parts. Metal pieces such as the shoestring eyelets must be removed before the uppers can be ground up to be used again. Recycled sneaker material is sometimes used to create the surface of a running track or outdoor basketball court.