Sustainability at Dalbello!
Optimum quality, the finest craftsmanship and outstanding design “proudly made in Italy” have been the hallmarks of the Italian brand Dalbello since it was founded back in 1974 in Asolo. What began as a small family-owned company is now a state-of-the-art industrial enterprise producing up to 2,000 pairs of ski boots daily. With production of this magnitude, we are keenly aware of our responsibilities with regard to the conservation of resources and sustainability. We continually develop new methods and processes to make the company even more eco-friendly and to promote and improve sustainability.
Repair 3D project
Since the start of 2019 Dalbello has therefore been part of the Repair 3D project which is being funded by the EU. The project is dedicated to research into new methods for recycling and repurposing plastic waste for producing new ski boots using 3D printing processes. The recycled material comes from various sources, ranging from aerospace companies to the automotive industry. Ski boots manufactured as part of this project contain up to 70% recycled materials. The aim of the project is to encourage innovative, resource-friendly methods for manufacturing ski boots that can be integrated into our production processes.
Production in Asolo
Dalbello is the only major ski boot manufacturer that produces every one of its boots at its own, Asolo, Italy factory. Only the inner boots/liners are produced in Dalbello’s cut and sew facility in Bulgaria where they are then shipped to Asolo for final inspection and assembly. Having production located in Italy means that we can control working conditions directly. At the same time, production in Asolo contributes to regional value creation and the advancements of the EU economic region.
50 percent of the raw materials used for manufacturing the ski boots come from the district of Montebelluna and 100 percent from Europe, which means that transport routes can be kept short and pollutant emissions kept to a minimum. To continue to conserve resources and avoid waste, we use as much residual and surplus material from production as possible for manufacturing new ski boots.
This applies in particular to the plastic shell and cuff materials, all of which can generally be reused. 20 percent of a new ski boot now consists typically of this residual material. A growing number of models are featuring more and more renewable resources, such as nylon for the outer shell of the boot. We have been exploring new and innovative materials since 2011 in close collaboration with the University of Bologna. Research covers a wide variety of areas, ranging from thermoforming for the outer shell and liner to composite materials and thermal insulation. To promote clean production, the use of pollutants has been reduced to a minimum and almost completely eliminated from production.
The manufacture of durable high-quality products using new technologies, innovative materials and unique Italian design is a cornerstone of our drive for sustainability. In line with our commitment to quality, we continually improve the comfort, functionality, performance and handling of our ski boots with the aim of giving their wearers years of fun and enjoyment. It is no surprise that athletes in all areas of skiing - from racing, freeskiing, freeriding to alpine - trust Dalbello products.
“Yes, we care!” – DALBELLO IS AN OFFICIAL PARTNER OF THE LIFE RESKIBOOT PROJECT
Asolo, July 22, 2021. Dalbello has been a proud partner of the LIFE RESKIBOOT project since September 2020. As part of this LIFE project1 co-funded by the European Commission, Dalbello and six further partners target the problem of plastic waste management with a new paradigm applied to ski boot construction. The aim of the LIFE RESKIBOOT project team is to develop, to produce and to launch new high-quality and cost-competitive ski boots using 90 percent recycled materials. This will drastically reduce amounts of plastic waste sent to landfills.
As a LIFE RESKIBOOT project partner, Dalbello advises on the optimization of production processes and supports the development of recycled ski boots. One thousand pairs of these boots will be manufactured inhouse by Dalbello, to then be tested by skiers to demonstrate comfort and technical performance. “So far, we have already implemented a procedure to recover the post-industrial waste, both for hard plastic components, like shells and cuffs, as well as for the soft parts of the liners at Dalbello”, says Stefano Prosdocimo, R&D Department and LIFE RESKIBOOT Project Manager at Dalbello.
The project team will also decrease end-of-life disposal through a take-back and re-use service for rental ski boots. The implementation of LIFE RESKIBOOT is based on the cooperation of seven partners from different sectors and covers Bulgaria, Belgium, and Italy. From September 1, 2020, to February 29, 2024, GRIFONE S.R.L. (Bulgaria) and EPSI2 (Belgium) as well as Italy-based Dalbello, Plastic Sort S.R.L., Rent a Sport Italia S.R.L., Studio Fieschi e soci S.R.L. and University of Bologna (DICAM) will implement a new model of circular plastic economy over the full product life cycle. The total project budget is set at Euro 2,819,037, with the European Commission co-funding 55 percent of the amount.
Project development and objectives
In order to realize the production of 90 percent recycled ski boots, post-consumer ski boots are recovered from rentals, sorted and re-used as secondary raw materials in the first step. Following this, the LIFE RESKIBOOT project team characterizes the secondary raw material properties and compares them with raw materials to optimize design and manufacture the components for the first 1,000 pairs of recycled ski boots. The properties of these boots are then characterized in terms of comfort, technical features and safety with the standard procedure for all commercial products. An on-snow test is finally set-up to prove that they can be commercialized. Once this has been proven, the project team will develop an optimized manufacturing process by using 90 percent of recycled raw materials, eliminating processing offcuts (up to 40 percent in foamed materials) and improving the product design to make the recycling process easier and minimize the operations needed.
As part of LIFE RESKIBOOT, a new circular economy business model will be implemented, which involves:
- Setting the foundation for a take-back system for rentals to collect post-consumer ski boots to be turned into secondary raw materials, as well as a new service for rentals to re-use the outer shell and substitute only the internal liner with a recycled one.
- At least 7 percent reduction of ski boot final cost by using less virgin raw material.
- Guidelines for market replication of ski boots that are designed to be more easily and efficiently separated, to be applied also on other types of sport footwear.
Stefano Prosdocimo, R&D Department and LIFE RESKIBOOT Project Manager at Dalbello, sees the communication of the results to professionals, companies, academia, research institutes and ski boot customers as a key for the success of the project: “In collaboration with EPSI and the other project partners, we will take actions to widely communicate the outcomes of the LIFE RESKIBOOT project. It is our aim to establish a new standard for the recycling of ski boots among all competitors in the industry.”
Environmental impact – What are the expected results until 2027?
In 2027, three years after the project end, it is expected by the project team to have 13,500 pairs of recycled ski boot commercialized, with potential environmental benefits due to the reduction in resource use, generated waste, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Due to sorting and recycling of ski-boot components a reduction of around 36,320 kg of waste sent to disposal is expected by 2027. Approximately 130 tons of GHG emissions, expressed in CO2 equivalent, should be avoided which would be released by producing equivalent virgin materials. Finally, about 3,716 GJ of oil and natural gas can be saved, which would have been required as feedstock and fuels to produce virgin raw materials.
For more details on the project, visit the website: https://www.lifereskiboot.eu/
Grinding machine that is used by Dalbello to ground the scrap parts of the production. When injecting a plastic ski boot component also the channels that conduct the plastic into the molds solidify, and they need be to cut off as scrap parts. Now that Dalbello has become a partner of LIFE RESKIBOOT, they are grinded next to the injection machines and reinjected directly. This way, no material waste is caused. All these operations are part of optimizing the manufacturing process and finally allows to manufacture ski boots of 90 percent of recycled raw materials. / Image: Dalbello
In this rebonding machine the waste is processed by Dalbello and then reused to create new components. Once the agglomerate block is coming out of the rebonding machine it is cut into slices to make components for the padding of the liners (on the right).
Parts of agglomerates that are used to cut paddings for the liners (left).
Example of a tongue padding obtained from an agglomerate (middle).
The padding is then used for the tongue (left) and then assembled with the rest of the liner (right).