Hidden AirTags crucial in Singapore recycling failure investigation

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2023
AirTags have been used to investigate whether a program by the Singapore government and chemical producer Dow really recycled sneakers, but instead found most were exported to another country.

An AirTag on a keyring
An AirTag on a keyring


In 2022, the government of Singapore and Dow promoted an effort to turn the rubber soles and midsoles of donated shoes into a material used to construct playgrounds and running tracks. An investigation into the program determined that not all shoes that were donated actually got recycled, but instead were sent abroad.

After hearing of previous recycling failures by Dow, Reuters tested the shoe project by donating pairs of shoes to the effort. However, journalist secretly placed AirTags into the soles of 11 pairs, to try and find out where they actually went.

Multiple pairs of donated shoes were recovered by the report, with most found in Indonesia. One pair did stay in Singapore, but it seems someone may have taken them from the donation bin, as the pair were located about a mile from the bin itself.

According to the report, the tagged shoes were taken by a second-hand goods exporter who was allegedly hired by a waste management company involved in the recycling scheme.

On being presented the findings, Dow opened its own investigation along with state agency Sport Singapore and other program sponsors. Dow later confirmed the exporter would be out of the project from March 1.

A statement from Dow insists it and project partners "do not condone any unauthorized removal or export of shoes collected through this program and remain committed to safeguarding the integrity of the collection and recycle process."

Commonly appearing in crime-related stories, AirTag does sometimes become involved in some surprising developments.

In June 2022, AirTag helped a passenger discover a lost luggage graveyard in an airline's offices. Meanwhile, in January 2022, a researcher managed to send an AirTag to a mysterious "federal authority" in Germany, in a bid to try and prove it was a secret intelligence agency.

Apple's Find My system has also been used with other hardware for other surprising results. In April 2022, a Ukrainian man was able to track the movements of retreating Russian forces, by checking the position of AirPods stolen from his home near Kyiv.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    Thing is back in the day we would goto the computer recycler and check for "Beige Macs," that was the best, once or twice a year there would be a "find" back when it was fun to fix 'um up,   Now it's too much work and pray they don't have to get setup again... cause floppies get old, the drives themselves, but if you ever want to you can use flash drives in old beige macs with scsi adapter cards, that can take "camera" flash cards...  those old beige 266-333MHz babies are fun to mess around with 8.1-9.2.2 (8.6 is the best!)

    Laters...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 10
    sreesree Posts: 152member
    The whole recycling process is the biggest scam around. People keep passing it on from contractors to sub-contractors with legal indemnities, until it reaches someone small enough, in some country where the laws are not stringent. That's all there is to it. Those guys just dump it anywhich place they can like garbage dumps, rivers, seas etc. etc. There isn't a biggest sham around.
    StrangeDayswatto_cobrarezwitsmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 3 of 10
    JP234 said:
    We have single stream recycling bins in Chicago. The Chicago Tribune investigated and found the same thing, only worse. Only about 5% of our recycling gets recycled. They used to haul the other 95% to a farm in Indiana whose owner decided he could make more money being a dump than a farm, got exposed in the article. So now they ship it overseas: plastic, paper, glass and metal all just mashed together into cubes and dumped out of the sight of prying journalistic eyes.
    What an awful thing :( 
    We are really screwing it up as a species.
    sphericOfer
  • Reply 4 of 10
    What wrong with second hand exporters exporting to countries that can reuse these shoes? The whole purpose of recycling is to reuse. We have second hand stores that sell used clothes and shoes here in Toronto, Canada. As long as these used shoes don’t end up in landfills is a plus. 
    watto_cobracaladanianFileMakerFellertokyojimu
  • Reply 5 of 10
    How stupid is this? The best way of recycling is continuing to use the product. I would not care if in The neighborhood or another country, if „stolen“, for free or sold (after all it takes work to sort, clean, repair and transport.
    i hope they continue and even widen the approach of using rather than dissecting.
    The main “failure“ is to call continued use a „failure“ in recycling.
    edited February 2023 watto_cobracaladanian
  • Reply 6 of 10
    OferOfer Posts: 247unconfirmed, member
    mikeymoon said:
    What wrong with second hand exporters exporting to countries that can reuse these shoes? The whole purpose of recycling is to reuse. We have second hand stores that sell used clothes and shoes here in Toronto, Canada. As long as these used shoes don’t end up in landfills is a plus. 
    Except that if you go and read the more detailed original article you’ll find out that only a small number of shoes made it to resale. The rest ended up being trashed.

    so yeah, reduce, reuse, recycle, in that order is better. But sadly that didn’t happen here.
    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobraFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 7 of 10
    OferOfer Posts: 247unconfirmed, member
    How stupid is this? The best way of recycling is continuing to use the product. I would not care if in The neighborhood or another country, if „stolen“, for free or sold (after all it takes work to sort, clean, repair and transport.
    i hope they continue and even widen the approach of using rather than dissecting.
    The main “failure“ is to call continued use a „failure“ in recycling.
    Except that if you go and read the more detailed original article you’ll find out that only a small number of shoes made it to resale. The rest ended up being trashed.

    so yeah, reduce, reuse, recycle, in that order is better. But sadly that didn’t happen here.
    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 10
    BiC said:
    JP234 said:
    We have single stream recycling bins in Chicago. The Chicago Tribune investigated and found the same thing, only worse. Only about 5% of our recycling gets recycled. They used to haul the other 95% to a farm in Indiana whose owner decided he could make more money being a dump than a farm, got exposed in the article. So now they ship it overseas: plastic, paper, glass and metal all just mashed together into cubes and dumped out of the sight of prying journalistic eyes.

    Try going one day without using: plastic, paper, glass and metal.  The computer you are using to type has all of those and the twenty dollar bill in your pocket is paper.  Good luck.
    Using it is fine.  Throwing it out is the problem.
  • Reply 9 of 10
    I recall a WSJ article around the turn of the century on the subject of electronics recycling. One photo from Indonesia (I think) showed a row of grates over charcoal fires with young kids hunched over the grates, holding PCBs over the fires to melt the solder so they could remove the components from the PCB. Rough stuff. 

    Apple itself has come a long way in its recycling process, but is the exception to the rule. 

    "Recycling" of plastics is a con created by the plastics industry to fend off regulatory legislation and provide consumers a way to rationalize purchasing single-use plastics.

    We used to recycle dutifully until about 10-15 years ago when a local news story exposed the recycling fraud going on here. It seems that every time it is looked into, the recycling claim turns out to be BS.

    The best exposé on the recycling fraud was on Frontline a few years ago: 

    https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/documentary/plastic-wars/

    We stopped participating in the fraud a while back. It's best to avoid plastics, especially single-use plastics, as much as possible. I haven't figured out how to do that myself 100% though. It's embedded pretty deeply in our consumer stream. 
  • Reply 10 of 10
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,418member
    ilarynx said:
    I recall a WSJ article around the turn of the century on the subject of electronics recycling. One photo from Indonesia (I think) showed a row of grates over charcoal fires with young kids hunched over the grates, holding PCBs over the fires to melt the solder so they could remove the components from the PCB. Rough stuff. 

    Apple itself has come a long way in its recycling process, but is the exception to the rule. 

    "Recycling" of plastics is a con created by the plastics industry to fend off regulatory legislation and provide consumers a way to rationalize purchasing single-use plastics.

    We used to recycle dutifully until about 10-15 years ago when a local news story exposed the recycling fraud going on here. It seems that every time it is looked into, the recycling claim turns out to be BS.

    The best exposé on the recycling fraud was on Frontline a few years ago: 

    https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/documentary/plastic-wars/

    We stopped participating in the fraud a while back. It's best to avoid plastics, especially single-use plastics, as much as possible. I haven't figured out how to do that myself 100% though. It's embedded pretty deeply in our consumer stream. 
    Unfortunately, the stories you point out are far too common. I'm in a similar situation with plastic. Up until a few months ago I'd dutifully bring all of my plastic marked as being  recyclable to a collection site. Only recently did the hauler who runs the collection site admit that only a fraction of the submitted plastic was being recycled. They changed to only accepting a very small subset of the plastic marked as "recyclable." Turns out that the marking isn't regulated. In any case, a friend of mine who ran a plastic water bottle making plant told me that even the water bottles marked with a <1>, the highest rating, had very limited recyclability due to degradation of the polymers. 

    I personally agree with your assessment of the plastic industry's deception with respect to recyclability. The fact that only a small fraction of plastic containers that contain recycle affirming markers are actually recyclable makes it difficult to believe much of what the industry says. It ends up in a waste stream somewhere. Whether it is dumped locally or dumped remotely comes down to who has the most money to make it "go away" from their backyard.

    I half jokingly predict that with all of the plastic/polymer material ending up in the environment it will eventually infect the entire food chain. As alpha predator, humans will eventually be infused with polymers and silicon at a cellular level. At about the same time, AI will be able to jump the biological barrier into an evolved polymer-silicon-human hybrid and the transformation of humans into machines with finally be achieved. Maybe in a billion years? 

    Save the date.
    edited February 2023 muthuk_vanalingam
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