Skip to content

Recycle Your Old Shoes

2009 July 21

For years we have heard about recycling our plastics, aluminum cans, paper and used electronics – but what else can we recycle? I recently found out that my old running shoes can be recycled and remanufactured to make athletic surfaces. During the manufacturing process, my old shoes are cut into three slices which are then fed through a grinder and then purified. The purified material is then used to produce many different types of surfaces such as playground surfaces, tennis courts and outdoor tracks. Check out this recycling process! I don’t know of any other programs like it, but hopefully it will catch on. It is a cool process that will save energy and resources. And, like many other recycling processes – we also help the environment by reducing excess waste when we recycle our old shoes. Instead of piling our old shoes on top of a local landfill, we can put them to use in our parks and athletic centers. What other products in our home can we recycle? Let’s help prevent waste and conserve resources and energy through recycling in our homes and communities. Be sure to let us know what great ideas you have.

About the author: Michelle Gugger graduated from Rutgers University in 2008. She is currently spending a year of service at EPA’s Region 3 Office in Philadelphia, PA as an AmeriCorps VISTA.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

42 Responses leave one →
  1. Guillermo permalink
    July 21, 2009

    Recycle zapatos

  2. Kerry permalink
    July 21, 2009

    So where are the shoe collection centers?

  3. Vincent permalink
    July 21, 2009

    I hope one day In China, we also can have suche a factory to do this action, and most people will like to send their shoes to recycle center.

  4. Amrita permalink
    July 22, 2009

    Hi !

    “Recycling Shoes” – wonderful idea!

    The rubber on the soles of your shoes can be broken down and reprocessed into a variety of products, most commonly athletic flooring.

    The rubber is also used in track and playground surfaces and in some consumer products. The foam is used for cushioning outdoor sports courts. The upper fabric of the shoe is used for cushioning indoor sports courts.

    Yes, I have read about Nike Reuse a Shoe Program which was started in 1993. Nike has two plants that reprocess the shoes, one is in the U.S. and the other is in Belgium. They opened the Belgium plant in 2005. Not only are the shoes recycled but also the process creates jobs both at home and abroad.

    With Regards

  5. Robert Enriquez permalink
    July 24, 2009

    I would say send them back to China, and let them recycle it!
    We have enough junk as it is, and the pollution that these plants will create is not something we need here.

    Robert Enriquez

  6. Neil permalink
    July 24, 2009

    On the homepage of the nikereuseashoe site, there is a map. Underneath it, select your country and then options will come up. I selected US, and then it asked for my zipcode. Boom! A collection center 1 mile from my house (it is a gym). I am now collecting old shoes at my office as a little bit of a community drive.

  7. jose montes permalink
    July 27, 2009

    is a very good idea…

  8. Paul permalink
    July 28, 2009

    Athletic and tennis shoes are already being recycled at I sell a DIY kit to patch your shoes’ soles, which doubles the life of your shoes every time it is repaired. I have one pair that is 4 years old and I use to wear out a pair of tennis shes in four months. All you need is some fabreeze once in a while to recycle those odors.

  9. Katie Mac permalink
    August 7, 2009

    Patching up old shoes is a great idea, but for runners, like me, your shoes need to be replaced every 6-8 months. This is dependent on how hard you are on them. Otherwise you can suffer some serious health consequences.

    For 5 years, during high school and undergrad, I worked for The Finish Line, a shoe retailer. Every year we had multiple shoe dotations, and the donated shoes would be given to underprivilaged families. Also, during back-to-school and Christmas times, Finish Line would give discounts to customers who brought in shoes to donate. There are many other retailers who do this as well. But, the old shoes are given to the charity called Soles4Souls. More information can be obtained at

    Another great organization is Toms Shoes. There is currently an ATT commercial advertising their company. For every pair of shoes you buy, the company gives a brand new pair for a child in need. Although it has nothing to do with recycling, it is still helping out people who are in great need. The shoes are comfortable, decently priced, and not to metion pretty cool looking.

    Nike does have a great show recycling program as well. Thanks for pointing that out Michelle!

  10. lucy says permalink
    December 10, 2009

    such a distinguished and wonderful idea,that recycling old shoes will
    obviously do us good

  11. simon permalink
    January 6, 2010

    is a very good idea
    I hope one day In China, cheap shoes we also can have such a factory to do this action, and most people will like to send their shoes to recycle center.

  12. Coach Online Outlet permalink
    March 12, 2010

    Recycle Your Old Shoes,really?I have many old shoes and i don’t need they.If you want,i hope to give they to you.but what can i do?

  13. imhotep1880 permalink
    March 30, 2010

    recycle our shoes?
    hmm that was creative idea.
    but keep looking at your shoes condition. if it is too old for you, you can consider to keep them and then find the new shoes one.

  14. louboutin permalink
    April 9, 2010

    Simple language, concise blog! Another style! I like!
    by Louboutin

  15. aslipper permalink
    April 16, 2010

    a blog of

  16. ShoeBrands permalink
    April 22, 2010

    Great idea to recycling the old shoes. Thanks for the idea’s.

    Esaul Daris

  17. Jay permalink
    April 27, 2010

    That’s very interesting and inovate idea. Never thought that shoes can be recycled :)

    @ Amrita some great points here.
    @ lucy, I agree. I hope people will create more ideas to recycle old stuff, this will make earth much cleaner.


  18. Shox Turbo permalink
    May 12, 2010

    Your good blog with extraordinary opinions has attracted me so much.It will be no doubt a excellent blog.

  19. Michael Jordan 23 permalink
    May 24, 2010

    History, culture, and art is all that most of our life. Some ppeole really understand where the artist is coming from, when they have not walked in their shoes. It takes all kinds of things to make this world. The more, the better!

  20. xueleven permalink
    June 30, 2010

    History, culture, and art is all that most of our life.

  21. wacom accessories permalink
    July 8, 2010

    I always take my shoes to those less fortunate

  22. gizmo permalink
    July 8, 2010

    i also like to recycle my old clothes along with my shoes

  23. Kelly permalink
    July 17, 2010

    I agree with someone mention patching it’s good , but as I runner I do must change my shoes every 4-5month.

  24. Nike pas cher permalink
    July 27, 2010

    recycle is meaningful to our life,we should do anything we can.

  25. Jonas permalink
    July 29, 2010

    I’ve heard about this scheme. Any attempt to re-purpose materials that were previously designated as waste has got be to a positive step forward.

  26. hilda permalink
    July 30, 2010

    Browsing on Google for something else closely connected, regardless before i ramble on too much i would just like to state how much I cherished your post, I’ve added your web blog and also obtained your Feed, Again thank you very much for the article carry on the good work.

  27. Chris permalink
    August 31, 2010

    If you want to recycle your shoes but don’t want them ground into pieces, consider donating to us at Soles4Souls. Our shoe recycling program focuses on Reusing shoes and giving them (not selling them) to people in need. has all the details.

  28. Retro Jordans permalink
    September 14, 2010

    Fantastic and inspirational posting. I love your blog and judging by the commentary you have a great list of followers. Will bookmark this site and keep updated..cheers!

  29. juanita permalink
    September 25, 2010

    Very good Post on recycling. I did not know shoes are recyclable I just give them away after getting the best mileage out of them. you can get info from wide width athletic shoes and see if the information will help you make an informed choice

  30. Justin Spencer permalink
    November 3, 2010

    The whole idea of recyling to help clean our environment is very intriguing. Being able to recycle shoes allows us to move one additional tiny step forward toward’s a healthier and more efficient planet. My views correlate strongly with this subject and I hope to see individuals acknowledging this in greater numbers in the future.

    Kind reguards,

    Justin Spencer

  31. Shoe mart permalink
    November 11, 2010

    Yes that’s the best thing to do.

  32. annie permalink
    January 25, 2011

    Great post!Keep sharing!

  33. Justin permalink
    February 3, 2011

    Great article, I believe in recyling shoes without a doubt.

    This is a great first step towards maximizing the usage out of the

    materials that go into making quality running shoes.

    Interestingly enough as it is, we have to spread the word about this

    topic. I will start by acknowleding this information and I will inform my followers

  34. mbts shoes clearance permalink
    May 30, 2011

    i like read your blog

  35. Burberry Handbags Outlet permalink
    July 20, 2011

    I have read about Nike Reuse a Shoe Program which was started in 1993. Nike has two plants that reprocess the shoes, one is in the U.S. and the other is in Belgium

  36. Air Max 90 pas cher permalink
    August 18, 2011

    I’d have to check with you here. Which is not something I usually do! I enjoy reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment! thank you!

  37. Paula Alonso permalink
    March 21, 2012

    Interesante este uso que se le da a los viejos zapatos.

  38. June 7, 2012

    The rubber is also used in track and playground surfaces and in some consumer products. The foam is used for cushioning outdoor sports courts. The upper fabric of the shoe is used for cushioning indoor sports courts.

  39. Home Remedies For Herpes permalink
    March 21, 2013

    this is cool. all this time i was wondering if my shoes can be recycled, now i know it can. i hope in the future we will make some technology that can produce shoe and clothes that will durable and strong in every condition so we don’t have to buy many shoes or clothes. it will save more energy and reduce waste stuff.

  40. RUDY permalink
    May 17, 2013


  41. Marek permalink
    August 14, 2013

    It is great that we can recycle shoes.Maybe I can add some clogs too.
    For instance I have some old Alegria shoes that their rubber would be useful for playgrounds and other stuff. Great to know ,all it rests is to find a good and suitable place where to recycle them

  42. awe permalink
    September 16, 2013

    Interesting thoughts here, thank you so much for exposing your ideas. Will be following your blog with a greatest interest. Thank you so much

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS