At a glance 2 min

Recycle Your Boots, a unique and sustainable ski boot recycling project

At the end of 2021, Tecnica, one of the world’s leading ski equipment manufacturers, launched Recycle Your Boots (RYB), a recycling programme for used ski boots across 8 European countries.
Recycle Your Boots, a unique and sustainable ski boot recycling project
Recycle Your Boots, a unique and sustainable ski boot recycling project

Everything starts with skiers who, rather than “burying” their old pair of boots in a corner — whatever the brand — choose to bring them to a dedicated drop-off point.

RYB, a genuine circular economy concept in the world of alpineskiing

The old ski boots are taken to a collection centre in Italy using vehicles with a reduced environmental impact. There, they are broken down into their original components. Ski boots are made up of some 120 components, 70 of which are in the liner. First the liner is removed and then the plastic and metal components are separated from each other before being sent to the processing centre for recycling. The 120 components are shredded and then washed. Metals are divided into ferrous and non-ferrous materials, and plastics are sorted into polyurethane and polypropylene which are then processed into granules. Once the PP grains have been recast, they will be used for components of the Tecnica Group’s product portfolio thereby avoiding the production of virgin PP based on fossil fuels and saving on CO2 emissions. TPU is used in the world of ski boots: to make soles, inserts, reinforcements and wedges. This plastic is used directly in a number of components in Tecnica Group’s new ski boots.

While Tecnica Group managed to collect 4,200 pairs in its launch year, by the winter of 2023-24 more than 18,000 pairs of used ski boots had been collected in 10 countries. The hope is to reach 24,000 pairs over the 3 years of the project, which has now spread to 12 countries and has been joined by Nordica, part of the same group. Tecnica is also promoting RYB to other brands in the world of sport, sharing the processes it has developed and the technical solutions it has acquired through its own experience.

A second life imagined from the very first stages of design

The recycling experience acquired in the first year has enabled the teams to realise something essential: to recycle better, you first need to manufacture better. The project is no longer limited to a simple transformation process. It also involves the development of eco-designed footwear lines: recovery of virgin plastic waste in workshops, increased use of recycled raw materials in the components of inner boots, which are more easily recyclable, with soles that are screwed together rather than glued, for example, or a limited number of materials used in their composition to ease downstream recycling.

In order to measure the environmental impact of this wonderful process, Tecnica has teamed up with the University of Padua and its researchers, who are supervising the project and assessing the benefits both in terms of short- and long-term CO2 emissions. Another major accolade for the group is that the Recycle Your Boots programme has received support from LIFE, the European funding programme for environmental innovation projects.

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