Asics Wants You To Buy Their New Shoes, Then Send Them Back When They’re Done

To help the environment, of course...


Globally, runners buy more than $17 billion worth of shoes each year. With the average running shoe costing about $120, that’s nearly 142 million pairs. Imagine the mountain-sized pile of sneakers that would create.

But what happens to your old pair that carried you through so many miles? You probably toss them to the curb and forget about them, right?

And here’s a horrifying thought: your very first pair of running shoes are still out there, somewhere, haunting the Earth. As are every subsequent pair you’ve ever worn.

That’s because a pair of running shoes takes around 1,000 years to break down in a landfill, and 95% of them end up there (that’s about 20 million tons of waste per year). So, even if you donated them, or put them on the curb and they eventually disappeared, there’s a 100% chance they are now taking up space and ultimately negatively impacting climate change.

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With most running shoes ending up in a landfill, Asics, a company on a net-zero mission by 2050, may have found a novel fix for at least one of its models.

Following extensive research, Asics has unveiled the Nimbus Mirai, a running shoe that is designed to be returned and recycled at the end of its running life.

The Mirai is a newer version of Asics’ neutral cushioned trainer, the Nimbus, but features materials and manufacturing processes that enable a simple recycling process.

How does it work?

When you’ve completely worn out a pair of Nimbus Mirai, you can scan the QR code printed on the tongue, and the link will provide you with instructions on how to return them to the brand so that they are able to effectively recycle them.

You’ll be directed to either ship the shoes back to an Asics recycling facility directly, or drop the shoes off at a nearby Asics retail store. Obviously, the latter would be the more sustainable approach, as it would cut out the individual carbon footprint of having to ship each pair of shoes, but it’s still a better option than letting yet another pair of sneakers find its way into a landfill.

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One of the big breakthroughs was with the glue. Apparently, current adhesives that hold most running shoes together are pretty toxic and render shoes basically unrecyclable. For the Nimbus Mirai, Asics developed a specialized glue that breaks down more easily when they receive the a spent pair from a runner and begin the teardown process. And although we haven’t tested the shoe yet for durability when its still got many miles left in it, the company says this new glue is just as durable and can withstand regular wear and tear.

To simplify the recycling process, the shoe is created with a single layer of lightweight polyester, which allows Asics to easily harvest, clean and melt down and reuse the plastic used to make both the upper and the outsole.

Asics says that if it can get back a pair of Nimbus Mirai, the company will be able to transform 88.7% of the recycled upper material into pristine polyester, meaning that your torched trainer will rise from the ashes, reincarnated as part of another running shoe.

The Nimbus Mirai will be available in Asics stores and online starting April 12.

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Jessy has been active her whole life, competing in cross-country, track running, and soccer throughout her undergrad. She pivoted to road cycling after completing her Bachelor of Kinesiology with Nutrition from Acadia University. Jessy is currently a professional road cyclist living and training in Spain.

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