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Category: Apparel, Athletics

Recyclable Polyurethane Sportswear Helps Close the Loop on the Circular Economy

From ski poles to ski jackets and pants and even to the skis and snow boards themselves, frequent readers of this blog know that polyurethane plays a big role in helping athletes maneuver slopes during winter months. With consumer demand growing for products that help close the loop on the circular economy, companies that make goods using polyurethane are now creating new products from the polyurethane found in old sportswear.

Creating Recycled TPU Filament for 3D Printing

One company tackling the problem of what to do with old ski boots is CREAMELT®, a Switzerland-based developer and 3D printing filament manufacturer. The company exclusively uses the hard, outer shell of old ski boots, made from thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), to create new flexible TPU filament for 3D printing.

Recycling Old Ski Boots

Here’s how the recycling process works: old ski boots are collected from a number of different sources. Once transported back to CREAMELT®’s workshop in Davos, Switzerland, the TPU shells are separated from the boots. The shells are then sorted by color and chemical makeup before being shredded down into TPU chips. Once shredded, the chips are then remelted and extruded to create new filament used for 3D printing.

Recycling TPU to Create New Products

Some companies concentrate on making new products from polyurethane found in old ski wear, while other ski brands, like Salomon, have pledged to recycle the TPU in their own products to create their next generation of offerings. 

Salomon recently introduced a running shoe that, at the end of shoe’s useful life, the TPU portion of the shoe is ground down to make TPU chips that can be recycled to make new products like ski boots.

Recycled Polyurethane Plus Innovation

By finding innovative ways of reusing polyurethane materials, manufacturers of all kinds are working together to reduce waste and create a circular economy in the sports and skiwear industries.