The Malaysia Investment Development Authority estimates that the amount of solid waste generated in 2021 came down to 38,427 tonnes per day, with 82.5 per cent disposed of in landfills. Because shoes have a shorter life expectancy, landfills are seeing an increase in shoe waste.
In light of this plight, EcoKnights is running a shoe recycling campaign dubbed “Old Soles New Life” that could mean the answer to addressing the limited space for landfills and reducing the environmental impact for a better Malaysia.
The impact-driven sustainability organisation has partnered with Dow, a leading global materials science company, and Life Line Clothing Malaysia, a prominent textile recycling company, to create the first shoe waste recycling ecosystem in Malaysia.
“This campaign will bring the concepts of recycling and sustainability accessible to everyone” said Paul Fong, Country Director for Dow Malaysia and Singapore. “It emphasizes that anyone can do their part by simply dropping their used shoes in the allocated shoe bins to be recycled into sports infrastructures which can be used again.”
This two-month campaign is the first phase of a project to achieve a permanent circular model of recycling shoe waste in Malaysia. The campaign invites the public to recycle their used and unwanted shoes responsibly by dropping them into any of the shoe waste bins with distinct red lids and white bodies around Klang Valley, Kuala Lumpur and Johor.
The soles of public-collection shoes will be ground into rubber granules to be used in infrastructure construction particularly sports surfaces, helping to reduce the current standard use of hazardous recycled tyres.
The recycled shoe materials will be bound using Dow’s water-based and solvent-free binder technology in a playground built at Sekolah Kebangsaan Bukit Tadom (A), Banting, Selangor, an indigenous school that was severely damaged by a flood in December 2021.
Dr Yasmin Rasyid, Founder and President of EcoKnights stated that the partnership is a good example of public-private collaborations to drive sustainability through active public participation.
“We hope that this effort, among others, will open the path for demonstrating how waste can be reused for other purposes and, ultimately, how the circular economy works.”
“Our goal is seeing a significant behavioural shift among Malaysians in terms of how we consume materials, how we treat and discard waste, and, ultimately, how we reuse materials for a better or different purpose. This is one way EcoKnights is driving the urgency of adopting a sustainable lifestyle to transition into a carbon-neutral nation.”