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Sports shoe recycling project

Response to parliamentary questions on the sports shoe recycling project

  1. The shoe recycling programme is a joint initiative set up in 2021 by Dow and Sport Singapore.  Other partners, such as B.T. Sports and Alba-WH, are involved in the project and play various roles in the process chain. Dow’s role is to manage the integration of the respective roles and promote the use of safe and sustainable materials. Sport Singapore promotes the use of these materials to install sports infrastructure and sets up shoes collection points at its ActiveSG sports centres. Alba-WH is the appointed collection partner responsible for collecting shoes, and delivers them to B.T. Sports which manages the facility to grind the recycled shoes into granules for use as building materials.  This is Singapore’s first grinding facility which is able to grind recycled shoes into granules for use as building materials. It was set up by B.T. Sports with the assistance of a grant from Government.  SportSG pays only for the recycled granules which it receives and uses for installation at public sports facilities.

  2. In January 2023, the project partners were alerted about Reuter’s observations that shoes put into recycling bins in Singapore intended for the shoe recycling programme were being diverted for resale.  An investigation was immediately commenced by the project partners to look into these observations. 

  3. Alba-WH, as the party responsible for the collection of the shoe recycling bins, had engaged Yok Impex to do so for selected parts of Singapore. These bins were brought to and sorted at Yok Impex’s premises before being sent to Alba-WH’s warehouse for registering and weighing. They were subsequently delivered to the grinding facility.

  4. The investigation found that the shoe recycling bins at Yok Impex’s premises were not properly segregated from their other sorting activities, resulting in some shoes which were meant for recycling being exported to other countries for resale. 

  5. Alba-WH has since terminated the services of Yok Impex. The project partners have also taken steps to tighten the process chain. These include: 
    1. Appointing only contractors and subcontractors that are not involved in any second-hand trading of textiles or shoes;
    2. Transporting all collected shoes to Alba-WH’s premises without any aggregation or sorting at any intermediary premises; and
    3. Conducting regular spot checks and inspections at contractors’ and subcontractors’ premises

  6. We will share these learning points across other recycling projects that MCCY and other government agencies undertake in partnership with like-minded stakeholders keen to work on initiatives that protect our planet.

  7. To date, the project has otherwise been running well. 10,000 kg of shoes have been processed and used in sport infrastructure such as the running track at the Kallang Football Hub, and an 888-metre jogging trail under construction in Jurong Town. The remaining recycled granules are planned for use in our Sport Centres such as in Serangoon, Bukit Canberra and Punggol, as well as in jogging tracks, fitness corners, and playgrounds around Singapore.

  8. I hope that this episode will not deter the public from supporting such initiatives as these are important and impactful in protecting our environment. This initiative has led to more environmentally-friendly material being used in the construction of our public sports infrastructure. We assure the public that MCCY and the public service remains committed to our Singapore Green Plan 2030 efforts to support the national sustainability agenda.
Last updated on 21 March 2023