Tecnica Group leads an innovative recycling project for the ski boot industry. The Italian group launches a circular economy project to recycle used ski boots into secondary raw material, involving producers, retailers and consumers, saving resources and reducing CO2 emissions.
The Cortina World Championships have always had an eye on sustainability issues, which is why they hosted the presentation of “Recycle Your Boots”, a Tecnica Group project that brings the circular economy into the ski supply chain at Casa Veneto. Tecnica Group is one of the major players in the sporting goods industry, with brands such as Tecnica, Blizzard and Nordica, and the notorious Moon Boot.
“Recycle Your Boots” is not just an invention, as Tecnica Group President Alberto Zanatta said: “we are not simply creating and selling a product, but setting up a fully-integrated sustainable process: production, transport, recycling, consumers. We have chosen to present it during the World Championships because is a project that involves everybody”.
When an old pair of ski boots reaches the end of its useful life, at best it ends up in landfills or burned in a waste-to-energy plant. Tecnica Group has rethought this process, taking care of a process that collects, recycles and regenerates materials, to be used as components of new ski boots or for the production of other products.
The collaboration of retailers is fundamental, but also that of consumers: “we hope to involve skiers who want to contribute, with us, to reducing the environmental footprint of the skiing world. At the same time, we have the possibility to support retailers (severely tried by lockdown and the competition with e-commerce), inviting consumers to go to stores for a good cause “.
Basically, any skier who wants a new pair of Tecnica ski boots, can return their old ones, from any brand. Tecnica Group will then recycle the old pair in a transparent and sustainable process.
“We looked for the right technologies and the right partners to realize this project the old ski boots will be collected by retailers, and transported in smart batches to reduce emissions. The Italian company Fecam will remove the liners and dismantle each boot to separate the plastic and metal components. All parts will then be transported to the nearby Laprima Plastics plant and transformed into secondary raw materials, such as plastic granules and recovered aluminium, ready to be recast and reused in industrial production. In addition, the liners are shredded to make new padding.” Stefano Trentin, Business Unit Manager Blizzard-Tecnica explained
Recycle Your Boots will influence the way Tecnica Group designs its ski boots in the future. The Tecnica Group’s innovation team is already working to implement the use of secondary raw material from the Recycle Your Boots process in new products and new ski components, while new ski boots will be designed to facilitate the recycling process. The Group also aims to open the project to other types of products and brands, even outside the ski sector.
The Industrial Engineering Department of the University of Padova is a strategic partner to the project, with two different research teams. A first one, led by Professor Michele Modesti, it will deal with research and development on the innovative boot recycling process. The other one, led by professor Alessandro Manzardo, will measure the resulting production and disposal of ski boots, to evaluate its effectiveness in terms of reducing potential environmental impacts, including CO2 emissions. The Recycle Your Boots project has applied to the European Commission’s LIFE program, the EU’s funding instrument for environment and climate action, and is currently under evaluation.
FROM EUROPE TO THE REST OF THE WORLD
From autumn 2021 the Recycle Your Boots project will start at retailers across the Alps, in Italy, France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany. The plan is for Sweden, Norway and Spain to hopefully join the program soon, and Tecnica Group intends to extend the project to North America with a local recycling partner able to support the process.
However, the most critical element will be mobilizing the skiing community, its retailers and consumers.