March 15, 2004

Reuse-A-Shoe returns for second year

By Eric Rangus

Emory Recycles’ Reuse-A-Shoe campaign, which collects old athletic shoes to be ground into material for sports surfaces, was such a success last spring that it has returned in 2004.

Through April 30, dropoff locations for old athletic shoes will be scattered across campus just waiting to be filled with footwear that has outlived its usefulness.

Teaming with Nike and the National Recycling Coalition (NRC), Emory Recycles collected 7,734 pairs of shoes (5.88 tons worth) in 2003; 70 percent of those were later recycled. This year’s goal is 8,000 shoes with 100 percent recyclability.

“Everyone was very positive about last year’s campaign,” said recycling coordinator Claire Wall. “Not only did we get a lot of participation on campus, but we got a lot of donations from school systems. I think every school in Gwinnett County contributed.”

Indeed, Reuse-A-Shoe represents a significant outreach opportunity for Emory Recycles, a program of Facilities Management. A good deal of last year’s sum came from elementary and middle schools, whose students delivered dozens of boxes of shoes they had collected. Wall said Emory Recycles is continuing its partnerships with schools throughout the Atlanta metro area, extending as far north as Forsyth County.

Dropoff locations for shoes include the recycling sites at the Michael Street parking deck, Woodruff Residential Center, the Blomeyer and WoodPEC fitness centers, the Emory Village CVS and the main recycling center on Peavine Creek Drive.

Only athletic shoes can be recycled. They cannot contain metal eyelets, steel toes, cleats or metal spikes. Dress shoes, thongs, sandals or boots cannot be recycled, and shoes cannot be muddy or wet. The recycling process grinds old shoes into material that is used for indoor and outdoor sports surfaces including tracks, basketball and tennis courts, and FieldTurf.

“We are excited that we have such a wide range of recyclers on board for year two of the program,” said Nike’s Beth Farnum, Reuse-A-Shoe program senior manager. “We look forward to strengthening relationships with all of our community recycling partners as they launch the collection strategy that works best in their community.” Emory is one of 80 Reuse-A-Shoe partners around the country. That’s up from 37 nationwide nonprofit partners last year.

“It was a pilot program last year,” Wall said. “This year the scope has widened.” Emory is the only nonprofit Reuse-A-Shoe partner in Georgia, although the campus is not the only place shoes can be collected for recycling. Nike Town stores, such as the Phipps Plaza store, are one outlet.

Nike, one of Emory’s two partners, manages the logistics of picking up shoes from the recycling center, while NRC provides technical assistance not only to Emory Recycles but to all 80 program participants.

The return of Reuse-A-Shoe is just one new recycling effort this spring. Emory Recycles also has begun a partnership with the Whole Foods Market at the corner of Lavista and Briarcliff roads. The dropoff site, which was set up in February, has bins for white and mixed paper, plastic, plastic bags, aluminum and tin cans, glass, and cardboard. In addition to Whole Foods and CVS, Emory Recycles partners include the CDC, Wesley Woods and the Clairmont Place Assisted Living Center.