Tecnica’s “Recycle Your Boots” program is the ideal circular business

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Recycle your boots, the last sustainability initiative from the shoe manufacturer Tecnica, has a simple goal: to collect old ski boots, take them apart and recycle them as secondary materials ready for production. By working with multiple partners to make every step, from collection to reproduction, as eco-efficient as possible, Tecnica, a member of the Plastic Impact Alliance since 2019, sets an example of how other companies in the space can approach circular trading.

How the program works

Launched earlier this year in eight European countries, the program offers partner retailers special collection boxes, where customers can drop off used ski boots, of any brand. Tecnica works with another Italian company, FERCAM, for its transport logistics. Together, the two companies have developed a system to transport the boots in the most sustainable manner possible, using minimum pickup quantities and hybrid vehicles, from retailers to recycling centers.

Once collected, the boots then go to the Laprima plastics factory in Vicenza, Italy, where they are broken down into materials that are insulated and ready to be reused in new products. These materials include the polyurethane and polypropylene of the boot shells, ferrous and non-ferrous metals of the buckles and other materials of the boot liners. The recycled material can not only be recycled endlessly in new Tecnica shoes, but also be used for Lowa products, Nordica skis and other products from the Tecnica Group brand portfolio.

Through it all, Tecnica is also working with the University of Padua in Padua, Italy, to continuously monitor and measure the sustainability data associated with the project in all aspects of the operation.

“To make sustainability effective and efficient, it must be pursued at every phase of the production life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials to disposal,” said Alessandro Manzardo, associate researcher at the university.

Big goals for the program

What makes this initiative special is that each of its processes, from transportation to material extraction, is continually being changed and updated based on data. Like with many avant-garde sustainable development initiatives, we have the feeling that everything can be improved.

The liner is the most difficult part of ski boots to recycle. Here, the broken liners are compressed to make a new material.
(Photo: Tecnica)

The project is the brainchild of Maurizio Priano, Blizzard Tecnica’s brand and marketing director. He first pitched the idea when he joined the company three years ago. “Maybe it was really stupid or really brave,” he said, “but something about the working environment of the company made me feel comfortable bringing this idea forward. right from the start. ”

What followed was three years of research and communication between different partners, retailers and all branches of Tecnica’s operations. “I felt very lucky,” Priano said. “We were lucky to have the good ideas first, and also to find the right partners nearby. These efforts are paying off. Recycle your boots recently received funding from the European Commission’s LIFE program, which supports initiatives in favor of the environment and climate action.

In a few months, the project has already recycled more than 850 pairs of boots, but the leaders hope to reach 7,000 by the end of 2022 and 30,000 pairs by the end of 2025.

Unfortunately for our North American audience, the infrastructure is not yet in place to Recycle your boots cross the Atlantic. However, Tecnica is already working with a consulting agency to find potential partners for a North American initiative.

When asked what advice he would give to other brands considering their own sustainability initiatives, Priano said he would encourage them to find what works for them, even if the process takes time and effort.

“Don’t be afraid of the cost or the complexity,” he said. “There isn’t one solution that works for everyone, and it’s not easy to find. But now is the time. ”

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