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Nike suspends trainer recycling programme over Brexit costs

Nike has suspended its Reuse-a-Shoe recycling scheme in the UK as the recycling industry grapples with high costs related to Brexit.

Customers looking to send their old shoes off for recycling can still collect a recycling bag from Nike stores to be sent to one of the brand’s four distribution centres in Belgium.

But now, they must pack the items themselves and pay for postage, which was previously paid for by Nike.

The scheme’s change, first reported by the Guardian, comes as the introduction of EU export tariffs as a result of Brexit pushed the cost of the recycling programme up by around a third.

The sports apparel and footwear brand previously allowed UK customers to leave their old trainers at a Nike store to be sent to Belgium.

The shoes, which are generally difficult to recycle due to the mixed materials and glue that holds them together, are then recycled into rubber to be used in playgrounds, running tracks, courts and new Nike products.

The company’s website says: “Take your old pair to a store near you and we’ll transform them into Nike Grind – a material that’s powering the next generation of athletes.

“Bring your old pair and join us on a journey towards zero carbon, zero waste, future-proof sport.”

But clicking on the “Learn More” button on the site leads to a page that says: “The product you are looking for is no longer available.”

Nike suspended its recycling programme last year when stores were forced to close because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A spokesperson for the company said in a statement: “We can confirm Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe programme is not currently available in the UK.

“Nike offers our recycling and donation programme in 22 markets across the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, where consumers can have a positive impact on our planet and their communities by dropping off gently worn footwear and apparel at participating local Nike stores for recycling or donation.”

Simon Ellin, chief executive of the Recycling Association, told the Guardian that the industry was experiencing a number of issues related to Brexit.

With the national HGV driver shortage hitting multiple industries and the increase in export costs, Ellin said: “Brexit has brought huge challenges for our industry, not least the mountain of expensive red tape we now need to enable us to export recycled materials on to the continent for reprocessing.

“Brexit has also meant we have had to change our trading terms with our European partners for VAT purposes. This has proved challenging but it has been very encouraging that most of our European outlets have engaged with us to find a workable system. We now just regard it as the new norm.”