Zoos Collect Shoes for Recycling

Jennifer Fong, education director at The Toledo Zoo in Toledo, Ohio shows some of the athletic shoes collected for recycling. For one day the zoo allowed visitors free admittance if they donated a pair of old athletic shoes for recycling. The Toledo Zoo's program has become a model for others.

Toledo, OH - Ohio zoos have collected old, worn out athletic shoes for the past two years. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources' (ODNR) "Recycle Your Shoes with Ohio Zoos" campaign collects shoes that can be turned into playground surfacing and padding for under basketball floors.

In October, The Toledo Zoo in Toledo, Ohio held its collection campaign by giving zoo visitors free admittance when they donated an old pair of athletic shoes. In 2000 The Toledo Zoo collected more than 16,000 shoes and the recycling campaign served as a model for the state and the nation. The ODNR and Nike Inc., honored the Lucas County Com-missioners, The Toledo Zoo and many other agencies for the effort. In 2001, the weather affected the number of people who participated, as the day was cold and rainy.

Other zoos in Ohio that participated were the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and the Akron Zoo. All of the athletic shoes collected in Ohio are returned to Nike, Inc. and recycled into products such as synthetic playground and sport surfaces.

"We want to take responsibility for our product through its entire life," said Bill Malloch, Nike's strategic director-footwear sustainability. "Product innovation and performance are our first priority. But we feel it is important to take our responsibility one step further-once the consumer is finished using our product, we offer them the option of recycling their old shoes. Shoes in good condition will be donated to charity.

"There's still value in product when people dispose of their shoes, either to other people or as Nike Grind," said Mr. Malloch. "Through Reuse-A-Shoe we have developed a market for our recycled material. The shoes are processed, materials separated and granulated into Nike Grind. Nike Grind is then used in athletic courts, tracks, fields and playground surfaces."

Each year, the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program collects and recycles more than two million used athletic shoes (any brand) a year. Since the beginning of the program some 13 million pairs of athletic shoes have been recycled and Nike has donated 70 athletic surfaces to U.S. communities.

The Toledo Zoo and all of the Ohio zoos shoe collection events was a collaborative effort between several local and national organizations including: ODNR, Division of Recycling and Litter Prevention; NAAEE; Nike, Inc., and the National Recycling Coalition. In Toledo other participants included: the Lucas County Board of Commissioners; Board of Directors of the Lucas County Solid Waste Management District; The City of Toledo Division of Solid Waste and Keep Toledo Lucas County Beautiful.

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