2022 Grants Challenge

Got Unusable Shoes? We’ll Take ‘Em!

Idea by Shoe Waste

Don't throw your shoes in the trash! Shoe Waste Pilot Program will take them and keep shoes out of local landfills by encouraging LA residents and fashion business owners to recycle their unused and unwanted shoes. Our program will recycle shoe components and offer these new raw materials to other industries looking for reusable textiles, plastics and metals. We will also gather vital data on how much shoe waste is within the city limits, locate these sources and place them into the circular economy.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Climate and Environment

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

City of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

The average individual owns 7.3 pairs of shoes in the USA. That's 71,755,671 pairs of shoes floating around Los Angeles County. Or a minimum of 430,878 pairs of shoes in the city of LA. Too many shoes are in our landfills which causes climate and environmental issues like the socio-economic crisis of fashion waste and landfill pile up. Los Angeles is the West Coast hub of fashion. The waste management of the city’s fashion industry should be a high priority for a sustainable future. In 2020, Shoe Waste founder observed brands like ARIDER GIRL of Walnut, CA imported 150 or more development sample pairs (including prototypes) per quarter that were not usable for sale. These development samples were then discarded the following quarter, making way for new samples. Various footwear manufacturers that make samples face the same dilemma per brand as they search for options to improve their sustainable business practices and operations.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

Shoe Waste Pilot Program will become the best viable solution and relief to LA brands and manufacturers. Finally, they will have a place to discard their unusable components. Shoe Waste will obtain its recyclable products (feedstock) from its partners; the local footwear industry of Los Angeles, fashion footwear brands, as well as the local residents. Shoes get delivered to the facility by drop-off, shipments and pick up services. Our program will initiate a regional “Shoe Waste Day”. Shoe Waste Day plays a key role in achieving community-based education on waste from shoes as well as highlighting the impact footwear is having on our environment and on the consumer level. We expect a minimum of 300lbs of shoe waste for our project, saving the city of Los Angeles 300lbs (or more) of shoes from the landfills. Shoe Waste employees and volunteers will undergo Shoe Waste’s training and education program. “Shoe Decon Training" will teach the importance of shoe making and deconstruction as well as machine operations. Shoe Waste will have a unique 2-lane process to pulverize or deconstruct, sort, grade and catalog shoe components. This training will trailblaze a new high level labor skill set for the community. The waste materials become part of the value chain. One pair of shoes can have 10 different recycled products/raw materials. Each material will demand its own market value. We plan to determine this value with our program and evaluate these product streams.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

SHOE WASTE LLC will answer the question; “where can I take my shoes that are no longer usable?” From October 2022-2023, Shoe Waste will influence and encourage its LA County residents to view their fashion footwear differently & participate in a new way to dispose of them. During this short term period we will have accomplished use of data to produce research findings that identify how much shoes are in the waste stream in the city of Los Angeles. In the long term period Shoe Waste will change the landscape of fashion waste management in a bustling footwear manufacturing hub; saving the city of Los Angeles around 35,400lbs of shoes from the landfills each quarter. A successful vision includes; 1) Setting up Shoe Waste Bin for every household, retailer and factory location in Los Angeles. 2) Position Los Angeles as the leader in the circular economy regarding Shoe Waste management. 3) Substantially reducing shoe waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Shoe Waste is prepared for success by establishing relationships and working closely with: 1) FDRA (footwear industry organization) that has measured imported and domestic manufacturing data that contribute to footwear waste. 2) A Team of young HBCU Engineer students currently working on an internship program with Shoe Waste founder, to measure the number of shoes that are in the landfills along with the staff of LASANS & Environment, Industrial Waste Management Division. 3) LA’s Local Fashion Industry Brands as a supportive measure - to help with understanding the waste stream of fashion brands regarding development samples that are shipped to the US, deemed as trash. By applying all these measurable successes and milestones we are discovering, creating, and building a new economic stream for the recycling industry that are important for the duration of the program. These measures will also aid businesses in identifying how they can lower the amount of wasted production.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 61,554

Indirect Impact: 9,829,544