Athletic shoes running toward sustainability

It used to be you’d take your shoes to a cobbler to be re-soled. No more. Athletic shoes are part of our disposable society. But some companies are hoping to close the loop, to get their shoes back so they can reuse the materials. Eric Liedtke from Adidas explains how that might work.

Liedtke likens one possibility to a process in Germany called the Pfand, which involves putting down a deposit for a beer glass. The deposit is returned when the glass is returned.

"If you use that analogy for footwear, I still buy it," he said. "Let's say that's a $100 shoe. I give you $110, and I then wear it for two or three years. I give it back to you, I get my $10 back, you get the shoe back, and I get to pick another one."

"We definitely are playing with this," Liedtke said. "How do you collect products at the end of their life cycle and make them into new products? That's a natural challenge to what we've done with our circular loop shoe."

If old shoes had a value, kids might think twice before tossing them over telephone lines.