U.S. petrochemicals giant Dow Inc and the Singapore government said they were transforming old sneakers into playgrounds and running tracks. Reuters put that promise to the test by planting hidden trackers inside 11 pairs of donated shoes.
Most got exported instead.
t a rundown market on the Indonesian island of Batam, a small location tracker was beeping from the back of a crumbling second-hand shoe store. A Reuters reporter followed the high-pitched ping to a mound of old sneakers and began digging through the pile.
There they were: a pair of blue Nike running shoes with a tracking device hidden in one of the soles.
These familiar shoes had traveled by land, then sea and crossed an international border to end up in this heap. They weren’t supposed to be here.
Five months earlier, in July 2022, Reuters had given the shoes to a recycling program spearheaded by the Singapore government and U.S. petrochemicals giant Dow Inc. In media releases and a promotional video posted online, that effort promised to harvest the rubberized soles and midsoles of donated shoes, then grind down the material for use in building new playgrounds and running tracks in Singapore.
Dow, a major producer of chemicals used to make plastics and other synthetic materials, in the past has launched recycling efforts that have fallen short of their stated aims. Reuters wanted to follow a donated shoe from start to finish to see if it did, in fact, end up in new athletic surfaces in Singapore, or at least made it as far as a local recycling facility for shredding.
Why everything you buy is worse now
Singapore’s prison system
A documentary by CNA from last year. Looks like I never posted this on my blog.
Eventually, the mortician was not pleased with the other bodies sitting around on beds of ice, so a LN Dewar capsule was secured for the remaining three. Another man was already frozen and sealed inside the capsule, so it was opened, and he was removed. Nelson and the mortician then spent the entire night figuring out how to jam four people — who may or may not have suffered thaw damage — into the capsule. The arrangement of bodies in different orientations was described as a “puzzle.” After finding an arrangement that worked, the resealed capsule was lowered into an underground vault at the cemetery. Nelson claimed to have refilled it sporadically for about a year before he stopped receiving money from the relatives. After a while, he let the bodies thaw out inside the capsule and left the whole thing festering in his vault.
Another group of three, including an eight-year-old girl, was packed into a second capsule in the Chatsworth vault. The LN system of this capsule subsequently failed without Nelson noticing. Upon checking one day, he saw that everyone inside had long thawed out. The fate of these ruined bodies is unclear, but they might have been refrozen for several more years.
Nelson froze a six-year-old boy in 1974. The capsule itself was well maintained by the boy’s father, but when it was opened, the boy’s body was found to be cracked. The cracking could have occurred if the body was frozen too quickly by the LN. The boy was then thawed, embalmed, and buried. Now that there was a vacancy, a different man was placed into the leftover capsule, but ten months had elapsed between his death and freezing, so his body was in rotten shape — no pun intended — from the get-go and was eventually thawed.
The worst fates of all occurred at a similar underground vault that stored bodies at a cemetery in Butler, New Jersey. The storage Dewar was poorly designed, with uninsulated pipes. This led to a series of incidents, at least one of which was failure of the vacuum jacket insulating the inside. The bodies in the container partially thawed, moved, and then froze again — stuck to the capsule like a child’s tongue to a cold lamp post. Eventually the bodies had to be entirely thawed to unstick, then re-frozen and put back in. A year later, the Dewar failed again, and the bodies decomposed into “a plug of fluids” in the bottom of the capsule. The decision was finally made to thaw the entire contraption, scrape out the remains, and bury them. The men who performed this unfortunate task had to wear a breathing apparatus.Source: Big Think