“We are not simply creating and selling a product, but setting up a fully-integrated sustainable process: production, transport, recycling, consumers.” –Tecnica Group President Alberto Zanatta
Hoping this ski boot recycling program launched by Blizzard-Tecnica in Europe makes it stateside. Here’s the deal, any skier who wants to buy a new pair of Tecnica ski boots will be given the opportunity to return their old boots (regardless of what brand they are) to select retailers and Tecnica will take care of recycling them in a transparent and sustainable process. So far the project is launching in collaboration with Intersport retailers in Italy, France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany. The vision is expand the program in the near future in Sweden, Norway and Spain and hopefully with luck make it North America. No getting around making the boots we depend on out of materials that don’t simply biodegrade and return quickly to the earth so the next best thing is to find a way to find a way to keep the materials used out of landfills. Blizzard-Tecnica is doing an admirable thing here. Truly hope this become standard around the world.
Tecnica has introduced Recycle Your Boots, a project that aims to promote the circular economy by transforming old, used boots into second-generation materials. A ski boot is made of up to 120 components, which typically end up in the landfill, the company explains. Any skier who plans to buy a new pair of Tecnica ski boots can now return their old boots, regardless of the brand, to the store. The old boots are collected by retailers and forwarded in larger quantities. The Fecam company in Italy then disassembles the boots into their individual parts. The lining is removed and the plastic elements are separated from the metal parts. All parts are then transported to the nearby Laprima Plastics plant, where they are converted into secondary raw materials that are reused in industrial production. The liners are also recycled and used for the new upholstery. Ski touring boots are currently not included in the program, as they are often made with other materials such as carbon, which require other processes of disassembly and recycling.
Tecnica pointed out that Recycle Your Boots is not just a recycling project but rather “a new business model,” based on the active participation of the different actors in the product lifecycle, including the buyers themselves. The project was developed by the Tecnica Group in collaboration with the University of Padua.
Tecnica is launching the project in collaboration with Intersport retailers in Italy, France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany. The vision is to roll out the program in Sweden, Norway and Spain as well, said Maurizio Priano, marketing and brand manager for Blizzard & Tecnica, at ISPO Munich Online. Tecnica is also looking to expand in North America with a recycling partner capable of replicating the same sustainable and innovative process. An expansion to other ski boot brands is also not excluded, possibly starting with the other Tecnica Group brand, Nordica.
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 are hosting today at Casa Veneto the presentation of “Recycle Your Boots”, a Tecnica Group project that brings the circular economy into the ski supply chain. 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 explains: “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 – Stefano Trentin, Business Unit Manager Blizzard-Tecnica explains – 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.”
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.