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  • Kyle Chua

Petrochemicals Company Dow Exports Donated Shoes Meant To Be Recycled To Second-Hand Market

An American petrochemicals company has been exposed for failing to hold up its end of a promise in a programme it spearheaded with the Singapore government.

Credit: Reuters

Dow Inc said it would recycle donated old sneakers and use the material to build jogging tracks, fitness corners and playgrounds as part of a programme that would help ease the burden on Singapore's incinerators. Instead, the company exported the donations to Indonesia to be sold again, according to reporters from Reuters, who put hidden trackers inside 11 pairs of donated sneakers.


The donations reportedly travelled by land, then sea and crossed an international border before being sold again at flea markets. The sneakers the reporters donated were first moved from the drop-off bins, which were placed across parks, schools and Decathlon retail outlets in Singapore, to the warehouse of Yok Impex in the western part of the island city-state. They then traveled by sea to Batam, an entry point for goods in Indonesia, before being sent to Pertokoan Cipta Prima, a flea market for low-income shoppers. There, they were sold as second-hand sneakers, stuffed in a sack with the Yok Impex dolphin logo.

Credit: Reuters

Some of the donated pairs travelled even further and longer, with Indonesia's second-hand industry having a complex network of traders. The reporters used a mobile app that was synced to the trackers to find the shoes, a number of which traveled for weeks, while others traveled for months.


The logistics manager of Yok Impex, Tony Tan, told Reuters that waste handler Alba-WH paid his company to collect the shoes from donation bins across Singapore, and deliver it back to Alba-WH. Tan also said Yok Impex did not export the shoes it collected from the programme.


When asked about the company's sacks containing the donated sneakers, Tan said there could have been an error, without elaborating further. “Sometimes the workers mix it up," he said. "I’m not sure because we all collect from some other suppliers."

Credit: Reuters

Reuters also exposed Dow in 2021 after learning the company burned plastic waste to power a cement plant rather than convert it to clean energy. In a statement, Dow said the programme was helping to "transform waste into valuable products".


Dow in July last year launched a similar shoe recycling programme in Malaysia, looking to its counterpart programme in Singapore as the blueprint. In Malaysia, Dow partnered with a local non-profit and a textile company. The petrochemicals company said in January that its shoe recycling partners were “energised by the common vision of sport championing a greener and more sustainable Singapore”.

 
  • American petrochemicals company Dow Inc has been exposed for failing to hold up its end of a promise in a programme it spearheaded with the Singapore government.

  • The company said it would recycle donated old sneakers and use the material to build jogging tracks, fitness corners and playgrounds as part of a programme that would help ease the burden on Singapore's incinerators.

  • Instead, the company exported the donations to Indonesia to be sold again, according to reporters from Reuters, who put hidden trackers inside 11 pairs of donated sneakers.


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