Crocs is the latest shoe brand to launch a program that aims to improve the life cycle of its products, offering a takeback pilot program that allows customers to bring their old Crocs shoes to select retail stores.
Crocs says it aims to leverage partnerships to then give each pair donated a new use. Crocs shoes in any condition can be brought to all retail stores in Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin as of Oct. 27, 2023. The selected stores have a designated collection box where customers can drop their old shoes, and the stores will even offer a “Crocs Saver” Jibbitz charm to those who bring in shoes while supplies last.
Crocs is aiming to create better sustainability transitions for footwear with the pilot and improve the circular economy.
“We’re excited to take this next step on our path toward innovating for a circular economy and a better future for footwear,” Deanna Bratter, vice president, and global head of sustainability, at Crocs, said in a statement. “This pilot program aims to address both environmental and social challenges faced by the fashion industry when it comes to product waste. Together with our fans, we can unlock innovation and partnerships to effectively reduce waste, reuse our materials, keep shoes out of landfills, and help people in need.”
Crocs has also partnered with Soles4Souls, a nonprofit organization that receives donated shoes and clothing items and distributes them to programs around the world. The organization’s 4Opportunity program works with partners to create local economic benefits in their communities through entrepreneurship and jobs.
Shoes donated in the pilot that are in an unwearable condition will be repurposed and reimagined, Crocs said, with the materials getting another use and potentially being upcycled into new Crocs shoes. The shoe company, which is based in Colorado, plans to later expand the pilot program to all its retail stores and online. The company’s brands include both Crocs and HEYDUDE.
Crocs also noted that it already uses a material as part of its efforts to be a net-zero brand by 2030. Dubbed Crosslite, the bio-based material has a lower carbon footprint. The material was introduced in 2021 as a modifier to the product line instead of a new and separate sustainable line.
Shoe Industry Increases Sustainability
Crocs is not the only shoe retailer with a sustainability program. Last month, Nike announced it was introducing a new shoe in which every part of the shoe can be recycled. Called the Nike ISPA Link Axis, the product uses interlocking components, fewer materials than conventional shoes, and zero glue.
A number of major footwear companies, including Adidas, Inditex, Target, and Zalando, also banded together earlier this year to test and validate a recycling process in a pilot program with Fashion For Good, a global initiative that aims to innovate the fashion industry toward greater sustainability.
Shoes have a big environmental footprint, with 90% of shoes being either landfilled or incinerated, according to a report from Vivo Barefoot.