How Shoes Became A Playground In The Second-hand Market

Why Are Companies Misleading Consumers About Recycling?

Take a read about how large corporations and brands are misleading consumers and stakeholders (employees, investors, community) about their recycling efforts.

Rueter’s writers placed tracking devices in shoes that were bound overseas to where U.S. petrochemicals giant Dow Inc and the Singapore government said they would be turned into playgrounds and running tracks. Instead, the shoes were traced to the second-hand market in Batam, Indonesia. Those shoes were supposed to have been recycled in Singapore.

Whether it is in Jakarta or Ghana or Kenya or Uganda; misleading lies about recycling are ever being uncovered. Under the guise of entrepreneurial empowerment, these second-hand distributors PAY charitable organizations for these goods that some call “DEAD MAN’S CLOTHING” and in this case, are shoes.


A worker sorts through piles of second-hand shoes at a warehouse owned by Yok Impex, a Singaporean textile and shoe trader, where 10 of the original 11 pairs of shoes were traced to before leaving Singapore’s borders for Indonesia, January 6, 2023. REUTERS/Joseph Campbell To Match Special Report GLOBAL-PLASTIC/DOW-SHOES
Reuters reporter Joe Brock planted location trackers in old shoes and donated them to a Singapore recycling project to see where they went. He found some of the footwear for sale in markets in neighboring Indonesia. Follow his journey. REUTERS/Joseph Campbell

Dow said it was recycling our shoes. We found them at an Indonesian flea market

U.S. petrochemicals giant Dow Inc and the Singapore government said they were transforming old sneakers into playgrounds and running tracks. Reuters put that promise to the test by planting hidden trackers inside 11 pairs of donated shoes. Most got exported instead.

Image: Reuters reporter Joe Brock retrieved this pair of sneakers from a shop in Batam, Indonesia on Dec. 8, 2022. Months earlier he had donated them to a Singapore recycling project that was supposed to turn them into spongy material to build playgrounds and running tracks. He traced their movement with a tracking device. REUTERS/Yuddy Budiman


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