All images: Courtesy of Tecnica
It’s a conundrum as old as time: My ski boots are trashed, but I don’t want to throw them in the trash. Other than turning them into a flower pot or stashing them in the shed to collect dust for a decade, there isn’t a great—or environmentally friendly—way to recycle your old ski boots because they are made up of so many different materials. That is, until Tecnica announced its new Recycle Your Boots (RYB) program.
Tecnica aims to solve the ski industry’s plastic waste problem with the Recycle Your Boots program by keeping ski boots out of landfills and recycling them into new, secondary materials to be reused in the production of new boots and other products. After three years in the research and development phase, the program has officially launched in eight countries—including Italy, France, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway and Spain—with 248 participating dealers.
To collect old ski boots of any brand, Tecnica has outfitted each dealer with an RYB-branded donation box. When skiers are buying new boots at their nearest dealer they can donate their old boots to the RYB program by simply dropping them in the box. Once a dealer’s box has at least 25 pairs of old boots, it will be collected and transported to Tecnica’s designated recycling facility in Italy. Keeping environmental sustainability and transparency top-of-mind throughout the whole process, Tecnica has partnered with FERCAM and Carbonsink to offset transportation emissions related to the program.
After the boots are dropped off at the recycling facility they are disassembled, sorted based on original material—plastic, aluminum or steel—and then broken down and recreated into a secondary material. From the shells of old ski boots, Tecnica’s other partner in the program, LaPrima Plastics, is able to regenerate two types of secondary plastics—thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) and Polypropelen (PP). These secondary plastics are used to develop ski boot components like wedge boards, liner parts and cuff reinforcements. Secondary aluminum and steel are used to create new boot buckles and Tecnica has also partnered with Liski to recycle the foam from old liners to create protective foam barriers for local ski resorts.
For its first year, the program will remain in Europe with the goal of collecting 7,000 pairs of old boots. By year four, Tecnica is hoping to have 30,000 boots collected and if the program proves successful it will carry over to other markets, including North America. In the meantime, keep holding on to those dusty old shoes until we can hand them off to Tecnica to recycle into beautiful new boots.