SINGAPORE: A Feb 25 special report from Reuters has been making waves in the past few days, as it showed how old shoes that had been collected in Singapore to make playgrounds and running tracks ended up being sold in secondhand shops in Batam and other parts of Indonesia.

On Monday (Feb 27), government agency Sport Singapore (SportSG) and multinational petrochemicals company Dow, who had led the recycling program that aimed at repurposing the shoes, apologized for a “lapse” that led to the shoes being sold overseas instead.


Many netizens, however, are expressing their ire online, including one Reddit user who wrote that he felt “disgusted that I was led into thinking that I was doing my part for the environment but not only was I duped, the government was cheated, and the companies just say they don’t know what happened and they did not authorise the farce…”

u/tolonglabang added on a r/askSingapore thread, “Greenwashing is a serious issue and all these corporations (in this case Dow, with the horrific track record in the article) are simply going through the motion and trying to buy goodwill when they are doing the opposite.”

Anyone else saw the investigative journalism done by Reuters regarding the “old shoes for playground and running track” scheme?
by u/tolonglabang in askSingapore

One commenter on the thread wrote pessimistically, “It’s quite nihilistic but frankly I feel there is no solution to this problem in a world where human greed is prevalent.”

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“I’m not too surprised,” another chimed in.

“Recycling is mostly a scam to make people in the first world feel good about our overconsumption,” observed another.

And when one commenter wrote that since the shoes had been sold in a secondhand shop, this was an example of recycling, while another answered that the issue was a fraud.

The program can be found online on the myactivesg site.

“Give your used sports shoes a second life! Be part of our nationwide effort to recycle used sports shoes into materials that could be used for jogging tracks, fitness corners and playgrounds. Together, we can build a more sustainable future for ourselves and Singapore!

This circular economy project partnership is with DowB.T. SportsAlba-WHDecathlon and other Sustainability Champions.

This is a permanent used shoe collection drive and will launch from 5 July 2021 onwards,” it reads.

The Reuters’ exposé can be read in full here, and CNA’s article on the apology from SportSG and Dow can be found here.


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