TreadLightly to recycle old footwear to mat flooring

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva

Australians are being asked to take back their unwanted shoes to retailers so they can be converted into other goods rather than end up in landfills.

Recycling initiative TreadLightly, led by the Australian Sporting Goods Association (ASGA) and Save Our Soles (SOS), has launched a nationwide campaign to turn unwanted sports and active lifestyles into mats and flooring for gyms, retail stores, and playgrounds. 

TreadLightly to recycle old footwear to mat flooring
Mat flooring made from recycled footwear

A recent study revealed that an average Australian owns around five pairs of shoes they don’t wear and could eventually end up discarded and taken to landfills. With nearly a quarter of those respondents (24 per cent) admitting to keeping their shoes for sentimental reasons, 50 per cent said they throw their unwanted shoes in the bin. 

On a lighter note, it also revealed that more than two thirds (78 per cent) of respondents are willing to recycle their old shoes if there is a recycling program in their area. 

“This research commissioned by TreadLightly and conducted by 10 Thousand Feet highlights just how many shoes are collecting dust at home, and how many shoes end up in the rubbish because we don’t know what else to do with them,” said Shaun Bajada, executive director, Australian Sporting Goods Association.

Bajada says this is a national problem and a significant environmental concern with shoe components like rubber that takes 50-80 years to break down. 

To participate in the recycling program, customers can drop off their pre-loved sports footwear in any 400 collection stations at participating retailers. 

Afterwards, the donated footwear is sent to a recycling plant for sorting, breakdown, and processing, where reusable components such as rubber, leather, and fibre are extracted. Finally, the reclaimed materials are upcycled to manufacture new gym mats, floors, and playgrounds. 

“We’re committed to working closely with retailers, manufacturers and consumers to reduce the industry’s environmental footprint and to stop millions of shoes ending up in landfills every year,” said Bajada.

The program currently partners with the country’s key sporting and active lifestyle brands, including Adidas, Nike, New Balance, The Athletes Foot, Hush Puppies, Platypus, Rebel Sport, and SportsPower. 

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva

A digital content manager based in the Philippines, Kaycee Enerva has written for multiple publications over several years. A graduate of Computer Science, she exchanged a career in IT to pursue her passion for writing. She's slowly practicing sustainability through period cups, and eating more plant-based food.



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