Product designers at Salomon have spent more than 18 months working on a running shoe that can be fully recycled for the production of other equipment at the end of its life. The result – presented at the opening of the Salomon Experience Store in Munich in early November – is the Salomon Concept Shoe, made entirely of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), which can be ground down and combined with new material to construct an alpine ski boot shell.

For now, the concept shoe is just a prototype for the creation of future sustainable products. It is part of Salomon's new Play Minded Program, which encourages consumers to act responsibly outdoors. It covers wilderness conservation, the production of environmentally friendly products and strict rules for materials suppliers.

Salomon aims to introduce additional sustainable operating methods over the long term and reduce total CO2 emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Savings in the materials used to make running shoes and ski boots go a long way toward these goals.

Salomon has also committed itself to eliminate perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in all categories by 2023, starting with footwear as early as autumn 2020. Know-how gained from the concept shoe should enable the brand to commercialize a similar recyclable product in 2021. The shoe marks a first step in Salomon's commitment to have all new products meet one or several of the company's circular-economy standards by 2025.

The Salomon concept shoe was unveiled a few days ago at about the same time as other initiatives in favor of a circular economy, such as Patagonia's launch of a ReCrafted collection of apparel, which makes use of fabrics and parts left over from Patagonia items that can no longer be repaired, or Adidas' FutureCraft.Loop, a running shoe designed never to be thrown away.

Adidas' new, second-generation FutureCraft.Loop, presented in mid-November, is a 100 percent recyclable high-performance running shoe made with a mix of raw materials and recycled components from the first-generation model. The original was launched in April to 200 beta testers, who returned the shoes to Adidas in May to start zero-waste recycling. The same testers will receive second-generation shoes.

The FutureCraft.Loop's commercial launch is planned for spring/summer 2021. It is a logical extension of Adidas' research and development in the re- and down-cycling of its products. Back in 2015, Adidas collaborated with Parley for the Oceans to introduce the first performance shoe with an upper made entirely of yarns and filaments extracted and recycled from marine plastic waste and illegal deep-sea nets. In 2019, the sports brand announced that it would be producing 11 million pairs of shoes with plastic recovered by Parley on beaches, remote islands and coastal communities. Adidas Outdoor has adopted the Parley program for an Adidas Terrex Parley three-layer rain jacket, which got an award at the last Ispo Munich show.

The materials used in Patagonia's new ReCrafted collection are sorted out at the company's repair center in Reno, Nevada, and sewn back in Los Angeles. The ReCrafted line is part of the company's two-year-old Worn Wear program, which encourages consumers to trade in their used Patagonia apparel in exchange for a discount voucher on the purchase of new garments. It has resold 120,000 units of second-hand clothing, after repairing them in Reno. The company has just opened a first Worn Wear pop-up shop in Boulder, Colorado, which will also sell the new ReCrafted line. It will stay open through February.

Patagonia's Worn Wear concept has been picked up by retailers in various countries and in other sectors, as illustrated by examples given at the recent European Outdoor Summit in Switzerland (see our latest special issue) and others in the footwear sector that we have discussed in Shoe Intelligence, another international business publication of ours.

Notably, the concept has been adopted by Bever, the Dutch outdoor retail chain owned by the A.S. Adventure Group, through a garment recycling program that is being extended at all its stores. It started with an experiment with collection points at four of its branches where customers turned in 1,900 kilos of used clothing in exchange for discounts on new purchases.

Meanwhile, Mammut is introducing its first products made from leftover fabrics, in an effort to draw attention to the issue of production waste. The production of outdoor clothing creates waste materials, which are typically stored and partly disposed of, and Mammut is instead using these remainders to produce new products. The Swiss outdoor brand is currently using leftover fabrics from its production to create T-shirts, available in bright colors and various styles. Its Leftover Collection will expand in the future to include other products, such as jackets and bags.

On the other hand, Napapijri has launched its first 100 percent recyclable and returnable jacket, called Infinity. Its main innovation lies in its mono-material composition. The filling and trims are made from Nylon 6, while its fabric is made from Econyl regenerated nylon, a high-performance Nylon 6 yarn recycled from discarded fishing nets and other waste materials. The use of one material only makes recycling easier, enabling the jacket's material to be recycled many times while maintaining its properties. As the name suggests, the Infinity can be reinvented and recycled, in principle, forever. Napapijri has developed a digital take-back program through which the jacket can be returned and recycled. Each Infinity jacket has a unique identifier, which customers can use to register the garment online. This will give them the option of giving it back after two years from purchase in exchange for a €100 voucher, which can be used on a new Infinity product. The returned jacket will be processed into new yarn and new products.