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New uses for old sports shoes

Most Aussie parents know how quickly kids either grow out or wear out of school shoes. They either get handed down or thrown in the rubbish – adding to the millions of shoes that end up in landfill each year.  

TreadLightly – a new industry-led national recycling initiative that recycles unwanted sport and active lifestyle shoes and gives them new life as useful products – is calling on parents to start the new year by making a positive impact on the environment.   

TreadLightly is powered by the Australian Sporting Goods Association (ASGA) and recycler Save Our Soles (SOS).  

Shaun Bajada, Executive Director, ASGA says school shoes are one of the largest contributors of waste that ends up as landfill – taking nearly 1000 years to breakdown – something that can be easily changed.     

“Kids go through school shoes so quickly and as the new school year approaches, many parents will need to buy new shoes. So we are asking parents to think about the end-of-life of old sports shoes and help us to step into a better future.   

“If you have old sports shoes from last year laying around the house, instead of throwing them in the rubbish, step up for the planet and take them into your local sports store to be recycled responsibly,” said Bajada.  

The footwear is collected from stores, sorted and taken to a recycling plant here in Australia for further sorting and processing. At the recycling plant, reusable elements like rubber, leather and fibres are extracted and reclaimed materials are then used to make new products like mats and flooring for retail stores, playgrounds and gyms.  

“Australians are increasingly conscious of the environment. In fact, our research tells us that three out of four people wish they could do more to reduce their environmental impact. We know parents are busy, but this is something really easy they can do to make a difference, while also educating kids on the importance of looking after the environment,” said Bajada.  

TreadLightly is on a mission to recycle one million pairs of shoes by 2023 – saving nearly 500 tonnes of footwear from reaching landfill.  

TreadLightly works closely with Australia’s key sporting and active lifestyle brands. For a full list of participating sporting and active lifestyle brands visit