Don't throw them away

Tecnica’s Recycle Your Boots Program: Saving the planet, one boot at a time

By: Matt Masson January 13, 2023

Ok, my title might be a bit overdramatic, but Tecnica’s Recycle Your Boots project is at least a step in the right direction. Climate change has really been at the forefront of skiers' thoughts in Europe this winter. the italian boot brand is taking steps to give planet earth a helping hand to keep cool with a unique recycling initiative.

Since last year, skiers who bought a pair of Tecnica ski boots have been able to return their old boots to affiliated stores to be recycled. The boot makers don’t stop there though—they have partnered with fellow Italian company Fecam to separate the liners and properly disassemble each boot into its individual plastic and metal components. These parts are then sent on to nearby Laprima Plastics plants, where they are transformed into second-generation products.

Recycle Your Boots (RYB) is clearly a well-planned and properly performed project that should only grow in the future. At least, that’s the ambition of Blizzard-Tecnica International Marketing Manager Maurizio Priano, who says that, despite the pandemic and other global issues, they were able to collect 4200 pairs of used boots since Autumn 2021. This number was achieved from 54 participating stores in seven countries, and without the contribution from any rental services. Due to the reduced capacities of companies because of a lack of raw materials, the rental stores held onto old boots for a further year. Once they get involved with the program, the volume of boots being recycled is expected to increase drastically.

RYB is a three-year project with a goal to collect a minimum of 20,000 pairs of unwanted boots.

 The first year was of boot collection was conducted at participating retaiers in Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and Sweden. In its second year, the project will grow to include stores in Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Czechia.

The man who understands the plan Giorgio Grandin

Without wanting this to sound too much like a science lesson, ski boots are a little bit trickier to recycle than your standard beer can or takeout box. I’ll let Tecnica’s Innovation Manager, Giorgio Grandin, take over for this bit: “The polyurethane foam and the complexity of all the components they are made of, have represented a considerable difficulty in understanding how to separate them and, therefore, how to reuse them. Thanks to the collaboration with ReMat we have developed an up-cycling process, which starts from the recycling of all components, in particular the polyurethane of the shoes, to transform them into a compact sheet of regenerated material.”

Did you get that? Cool. They then use those sheets in the construction of Liski protective mattresses, those big orange pads that you see around pylons and other objects on the sides of the pistes at ski resorts. In this way, your old boots get recycled and returned to the ski slopes in the form of a new product. Not only is that a nice bit of “circle of life” regeneration, but these recycled materials also increase the performance and safety of those mattresses.

This year, Nordica will join the Recycle Your Boots program, and the Tecnica Group is also pitching the project to other brands, explaining their processes, technical solutions and bringing their own experience forward for the benefit of other companies, and for the planet as a whole.

A new lease on life! Your old boots will get wrapped around pylons.

Tecnica has learned valuable lessons about the production of new boots from this project too. For example, some of the PVC used in the liners has a considerable impact in terms of CO2 emissions and very high energy consumption. Because of that, they won’t be used for the production of Tecnica or Nordica boots, starting next season. Tecnica have also started designing boots according to Ecodesign principles.

Mother Nature knows no brand loyalty, so it makes sense that Recycle Your Boots collects boots from all brands, not exclusively Tecnica or Nordica ones. So, there’s no excuse: If you treated yourself to some new footwear this winter, do the right thing and recycle the old ones!

All these boots are going to a better place

Find a "Recycle Your Boots" participating retailer in your area here.