When I wrote about Terracycle's sponsored waste programs the other day, I suggested it was a way for companies to take responsibility for the end-of-life options for the products they put out. Business Green reports that the UK-arm of retail chain Foot Locker is taking some important strides in this regard, offering customers a £10 gift voucher in return for exchanging a pair of unwanted shoes between now and the 8th of April. The chain is aiming to collect 20,000 pairs of old "trainers" (sneakers). The shoes will be sorted and graded by Foot Locker's garment recycling partner I:CO which will redirect them for reuse or recycling.
Schemes like this are, of course, an important step in the right direction, but the temporary nature of the effort suggests it is as much an awareness raising scheme as it is a viable long term plan to truly take responsibility for the companies products at the end of their life. Contrast that with Patagonia's recent plea to not buy their jackets, and efforts by the company to facilitate resale and peer-to-peer trading of their products, and you can see there is still a long way to go. Of course Patagonia is a brand that appeals to a relatively limited, wealthy and environmentally conscious audience—so it's good to see more mainstream apparel companies following suit. Let's just hope this is the beginning of something bigger.