Trainer Recycling


As runners, we are regular consumers of new trainers. To a point, replacing running trainers is key to reducing injury, however, it’s frightening to think that every pair of running trainers that we have ever purchased is still hanging around on this planet somewhere!  As runners we need to act responsibly and mindfully in relation to replacing trainers, and what we do with them when we no longer have a use for them.

Here’s a breakdown of the importance of recycling running trainers, focusing on environmental and social benefits:

Environmental Benefits:

  • Reduces Landfill Waste: Running shoes are made from a complex mix of materials like rubber, synthetics, and mesh. These materials take hundreds of years to decompose in landfills, contributing to overflowing landfills and environmental pollution. Recycling diverts them from landfills, promoting a more sustainable waste management approach.
  • Conserves Resources: Manufacturing new running shoes requires extracting raw materials and using energy for production processes. Recycling uses existing materials, reducing the demand for virgin resources and minimizing the environmental impact of production.
  • Lowers Carbon Footprint: Extracting, processing, and transporting raw materials for new shoes creates greenhouse gas emissions. Recycling often requires less energy than virgin material production, leading to a lower carbon footprint for the shoes.

Social Benefits:

  • Provides Affordable Footwear: Not everyone can afford brand new running shoes. Donating or recycling gently used trainers allows charities and organisations to provide affordable footwear options to those in need, promoting access to physical activity and a healthier lifestyle.
  • Empowers Communities: Recycling programs can create jobs in the sorting, processing, and repurposing of used shoes. This can benefit local communities and provide employment opportunities.
  • Raises Awareness: Promoting running shoe recycling initiatives raises awareness about sustainable practices and encourages consumers to think about the environmental and social impact of their footwear choices.

Additional Considerations:

  • Durability vs. Frequent Replacement: While some argue that promoting recycling encourages more frequent shoe replacement for environmental benefits, the focus should be on maximising the lifespan of running shoes through proper care and maintenance.
  • Biodegradable Trainers: While still a niche market, the development of biodegradable running shoes offers a promising future for reducing waste associated with footwear.

Overall, recycling running trainers is a crucial step towards a more sustainable future for the running community and the environment. By minimising waste, promoting reuse, and fostering social responsibility, runners can make a positive impact.

At our local women’s running community club JustRun, we pride ourselves in striving to be eco friendly, one way that we have embraced this is by being a collection point for used running trainers. We have partnered with JogOnagain

Our members and local runners can donate their trainers and we will send them off to be either recycled or donated to projects around the world.