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April 11, 2005

Used Sneakers Sought for Recycling Program

UConn’s EcoHusky Student Group is working to collect 5,000 pairs of worn sneakers for recycling before May 7.

The sneakers will be ground up to make new running tracks, athletic surfaces, and community playground surfaces. The program also benefits the environment by keeping the sneakers out of landfills.

The program will be highlighted on Earth Day, April 22, with a Sneaker Recycling Expo. The expo will feature “Mount Sneaker,” a dump truck filled with all the sneakers collected, which will be located outside Gampel Pavilion, next to the Husky statue. The expo will include educational displays detailing the sneaker recycling process and its benefits, and promotional giveaways from student-athletes to those who donate sneakers.

The effort is part of a program sponsored by the Connecticut Recyclers Coalition and Nike Corp.’s Reuse-A-Shoe program.

Three years ago, the Division of Athletics agreed to provide a collection point for the Reuse-A-Shoe Program. Now the program is being expanded to the entire campus and the community.

“Through the expansion of the sneaker recycling program, the University will be increasing its use of environmentally sustainable products, materials, and services, while working to conserve natural resources,” says Meghan Ruta, assistant advisor of the EcoHusky Student Group. “The program will also lead to a direct reduction in both pollution and waste.”

The UConn group is working with the Department of Residential Life, the Division of Athletics, the Student Athletic Advisory Council, and the Willimantic Waste Paper Co. to collect unwanted sneakers from members of the campus and local community.

Drop-off locations for the sneakers, which can be any brand of athletic shoes (no metal, sandals, dress shoes, or boots), will be located in all UConn residential and athletic facilities. Anyone from the UConn community or local area may drop off sneakers.

After the end of the semester, Nike will pick up the shoes from Willimantic Waste Paper Co., which coordinates recycling at UConn. The company will take the shoes to a recycling center in Wilsonville, Ore., and create Nike Grind material for its licensee partners, FieldTurf, Rebound Ace, Atlas Track, and Connor, for use in sports surfaces.

Nike Reuse-A-Shoe is part of the company’s efforts to promote healthier lifestyles for kids through physical activity. Since 1993, the program has recycled more than 15 million pairs of shoes, and has helped donate more than 150 athletic courts, tracks, fields, and playground surfaces to communities around the world.

For more information, contact Kate Wadach, intern representative to EcoHusky, at 860.486.5773, or visit