Footwear is essential in our fashions and can influence or ruin your wardrobe. Trends change, but Crocs remain prevalent in our household for some time. They are popular because of their versatility and excellent fashion appeal. But are Crocs recyclable?
This article provides answers to this question. It discusses the production process of Crocs, the raw material used to produce it, and its environmental impact.
No, you can not recycle Crocs. Crocs are not recyclable because of the material used to produce it. Crocs produce their shoes with a foam resin material called croslite. Resin is a type of plastic material. It contains chemical components that make it difficult to recycle it.
Many recycling programs don't accept Crocs because it is difficult to recycle them into the material it was previously. Rethink your decision to dump your old Crocs in the recycling bin. Your shoes may end up in a landfill.
Crocs produces unique footwear designs we all love. However, have you ever thought about their production process? Some people believe Crocs are made from resin, rubber, or plastic. Crocs answered our questions regarding the materials used to produce Crocs' footwear.
Crocs are made from a proprietary material known as croslite. Croslite is the primary raw material used in manufacturing all their shoes. They also use it to make shoe accessories like the Jibbitz accessories.
Croslite material is a closed-cell foam that makes Croc shoes soft and durable. It is why Crocs are firm, slip-resistant, and extremely lightweight. Also, it is resistant to bacteria and fungi responsible for shoe and foot odor.
Besides the main material, croslite, they also mix other elastic-plastic materials. These elastic materials are also known as elastomer resins. However, we can guess the major resin used in croslite based on the description on Crocs' website about their manufacturing process.
We suspect Crocs are made from polyolefin compounds, especially polyethylene vinyl acetate (PEVA). This material is popularly known as EVA.
We examined the website of Crocs’ third-party manufacturer and found two materials that could be croslite material. These materials are Levirex and XL Extralight foam resin. They produce both materials from PVC plastic granular forms.
They produce foam resin using injection molding machines. Both foams have closed-cell structures. There aren’t any holes in closed-cell foam, unlike open-cell foam. This mechanical process makes it resistant to liquids and gas.
In conclusion, Crocs are made from synthetic materials. Sometimes, they use other materials like leather.
Earlier, we mentioned that Crocs Inc. uses injection molding machines to produce their Crocs shoes. So, what is an injection molding machine?
Injection molding is a mechanical process that uses molds to create an object2. Injection molding got its name because it is like injecting fluids with a syringe. To perform this manufacturing process, an injection molding machine is necessary.
First, they heat and melt the synthetic resins. Then, they inject the liquid mixture into the mold and let it cool down. The Crocs harden as they cool down. Once they are completely cool, manufacturers remove them from the mold. This manufacturing process is best for large-scale production.
You can also guess the answer from the previous section. Crocs aren't biodegradable. The footwear doesn't have eco-friendly materials that promote decomposition. This is because of the plastic-like materials used in Croc’s production.
Throwing Crocs away causes plastic waste in the environment. The unprocessed plastic polymers left by degrading bacteria cause more environmental problems.
The material used to produce Crocs is lightweight, making it susceptible to transportation by natural elements. It becomes an environmental waste.
Crocs Inc. didn’t disclose the specific resin materials used to create Crocs. Still, we know that the production of Crocs involves resin. Resin is a type of plastic, meaning it takes over 100 years to break down completely.
Apart from this, some chemical components make resin dangerous to the environment. Crocs also use leather and wool in their manufacturing process.
Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) is a prominent material used in the production of Crocs. They claim it is non-toxic to the environment, but it's a form of synthetic plastic. Synthetic plastics are always harmful to the environment during production and at the end of their lifecycle. When we dispose of unwanted Crocs, it goes into the landfill.
It doesn't degrade because it is not from natural resources. Unfortunately, we don't have enough information regarding the environmental impact of this product. The major problem with EVA is how difficult it is to recycle it. It becomes plastic waste in the environment, breaking down into microplastics.
Microplastics are dangerous to the ecosystem. Marine animals confuse the microplastic particles of Crocs with food. For example, fish species can starve to death because microplastic fragments disrupt their appetite.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to the raw form of vinyl acetate can lead to health complications. This puts the health of Crocs' producers at risk. For instance, its constant inhalation irritates the eyes and upper respiratory tract.
Vinyl acetate properties altered their body weight and kidney size from the tests carried out on rats and mice. Most publications believe EVA foam is one of the least dangerous types of plastics. However, we need to conduct more research on EVA foam to discover more about its environmental impacts.
Also, the chemical compounds used in the production of Crocs enter the ecosystem as they break down slowly. We don't know what these chemicals are, but they could harm the environment.
They could cause oxidative stress, decreased mobility, and gene disruption in marine animals. Also, the absorption of Croc's chemicals and fragments could damage the reproductive organs of marine and land animals.
Since we cannot recycle Crocs and they are not biodegradable, how do you dispose of your old Crocs? Here are five ways you can dispose of your old Crocs:
Earlier, we mentioned Crocs aren’t recyclable because most recycling programs won’t accept them. However, you can recycle your old shoes if you send them directly to Crocs company. They have a recycling program. They partnered with Soles4souls to provide an opportunity to recycle old shoes.
You can send your shoes to Soles4souls. There, they’ll clean them and donate them to people who need shoes in various places worldwide. Over 300,000 pairs of shoes have a new life in the past year.
They provided 200,000 pairs of shoes for war refugees in Ukraine. They also donated over 30,000 pairs of shoes to the Boulder Valley School District after the series of Marshall Wildfires in Colorado.
The best way to dispose of fairly used Crocs is by donation. Several charity organizations will accept your Crocs donation. One of them is the soles4souls enterprise.
Soles4souls is a non-profit organization that collects old and unwanted footwear and gives it out to people who are in need. They have diverted 81 million pounds of shoes and clothing from landfills in over 30 countries.
You can send your used Crocs to a thrift store near you as long as they are in neat condition. The store will get the Crocs to a new owner, elongating the show's lifecycle.
You can repurpose your old Crocs into different objects around the house instead of disposing them in a landfill. You can use it as a plant pot and storage space.
You can use it to store stationery, keys, and any other objects. Ensure you wash and dry the Crocs before using them for your projects. Just hang or nail them to the wall to use as a stationery holder.
Once you're sure it is stable and won't fall off, add the objects you want to keep inside it. First, decide where you will hang it if you're using it as a planter. It's best to hang it off a tree branch or on your balcony.
Fill the insides of the Crocs with moss to cover the holes slightly. This prevents soil from pouring out of the shoes. Then, add the quantity of soil that suits the Crocs' size before adding the plants. Also, you can paint on your Crocs to give it a new look and cover the signs of wear and tear.
Read more: Creative ways to upcycle shoes.
In 2021, the Croc's shoe brand adopted more sustainable practices. The shoe brand wanted to be more environmentally friendly, so they partnered with Dow, a global science company.
This partnership drove Crocs into a more sustainable future1. They stopped using animal products and started using more sustainable materials. This helped reduce their carbon emissions.
They started using bio-based croslite to produce new shoes for you, their consumers. Their new bio-based material, Ecolibrium, is plant-based. Dow Company transforms plant waste and waste products from other industries into plastic.
Crocs claim they are now 100% vegan and use fewer fossil fuels. Using vegan materials from renewable energy sources creates a better possibility of future recycling of Crocs. Being more environmentally conscious,
Crocs set a goal to reduce the brand's carbon footprint by 50% in 2030. They plan to stop using energy from non-renewable sources. In return, they will adopt renewable energy sources in their manufacturing facilities.
Moreover, Crocs are environmentally friendly with their packaging. They claim to use recyclable packaging materials. They also claim to sell most of their products without shoe boxes to minimize packaging waste.
Lastly, Crocs prevents wastage by giving a second life to their unsold Crocs. They donate them to people in need around the world.
Cros are highly fashionable, but we are still determining their sustainability. The brand claimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by changing its raw material from plastic to vegan. However, we are still determining if the new bio-based material makes Crocs eco-friendly.
We can’t stop wearing Crocs because they are comfortable and ease foot pain. So, let us endeavor to dispose of it sustainably.
You can give your old Crocs to thrift stores and charities around you. Crocs have recycling programs where they collect old Crocs and donate them to the less privileged. You can also upcycle old Crocs into plant holders and pencil storage cases in your home. Ensure you don’t send them to the landfill.
Dow Corporate. (n.d.). Dow And Crocs Collaboration Brings Sustainability to Footwear.
Ebnesajjad, S. (2003). Injection Molding. Elsevier eBooks.
Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.
Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.