WIND ENERGY IN YOUR SNEAKERS
ACCIONA Energía and El Ganso create the first sneaker with recycled wind blade sole
ACCIONA Energía and the fashion company El Ganso have joined forces to launch a unique project that is a pioneer in the world: the first sneaker with a sole made from the recycling of a wind blade.
United by their commitment to sustainability and the purpose of generating a positive impact on the planet in all their activities, the two companies have materialized this shared philosophy in their first joint project: recycling materials from decommissioned wind blades -mainly fiberglass and epoxy resins- to combine them with rubber in the manufacture of the soles of a new range of sneakers.
The El Ganso x ACCIONA sneaker model features an exclusive design that includes the trademarks of both companies and a reference to the origin of the reclaimed material used for the sole.
For the manufacture of the first series of sneakers, waste from a blade that had completed its useful life after having been rotating since 1998 at the Aibar wind farm (Navarra, Spain) has been used.
In that time, the 23-meter-long blade alone captured the wind used to generate 12,500 megawatt hours of clean energy, which prevented the emission of 5,461 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, equivalent to the purifying effect of 4,160 trees.
WHAT DID THE RECYCLED WIND BLADE ACHIEVE DURING ITS LIFETIME?
MWh generated from a wind blade
CO2 tonnes avoided by one wind blade
equivalent trees to the emissions avoided by one wind blade
THE WIND BLADE
The recycled material used in this first experience comes from a wind blade dismantled from the Aibar wind farm in Navarra, Spain, after more than 20 years of activity. Wind blades are mainly made of fiberglass reinforced with epoxy resins to achieve the right properties of strength, flexibility and weight. Of all the components of a wind turbine, the blades are the most difficult to recycle.
After years of generating renewable energy from wind, the blade is destined for another use: to complement the rubber used to manufacture the soles of El Ganso sneakers. The blade is subjected to a mechanical friction process that produces a very fine powder of fiberglass and epoxy resins, ideal for use in the manufacture of the sole.
The powder obtained from the wind blade is used as raw material for the manufacture of the soles of the El Ganso x ACCIONA sneakers. At the manufacturing plant, it is combined with rubber to obtain a sole that maintains the resistance, adherence and durability properties of conventional sneakers. The process is completed with the assembly of the sole into the shoe and its preparation for subsequent marketing.
A circular economy model seeks to maintain the value of products and materials for as long as possible, minimize waste and conserve resources within the economy once a product has reached the end of its life span in order to reuse it repeatedly and continue to create value. ACCIONA Energía has had a Circular Economy Policy since 2021, whose aspiration is the complete circularity of the materials incorporated into the processes. the company's commitment to circularity is very high. Despite the fact that its plants are not waste-intensive because they are renewable technologies, the recycling rate of its waste worldwide reached 98%. In other words, practically all of its waste was given a second life in sectors as diverse as construction, restoration of degraded areas, fertilizers and cement manufacture.
A BIG CHALLENGE
wind blade recycling
More than 85 percent of the materials used in a wind farm - basically steel, copper and concrete - are easily recoverable. However, the recycling of blades is technologically more complex due to the heterogeneity of their composition: mainly fiberglass or carbon fiber composites, resins and, to a lesser extent, others such as wood, steel, plastic, paint, etc. The second-hand market is now a frequent outlet for blades that are becoming obsolete as wind turbines are replaced by more advanced models. But the wind energy sector is already working on solutions for the large number of blades that are expected to have reached the end of their useful life in the coming years. In Spain alone, it is estimated that some 20,000 blades will need to be recycled in the next few years. ACCIONA Energía is part of the RenerCycle consortium, together with other leading companies in the sector, oriented towards the dismantling, recovery and recycling of wind power components, which plans to invest 6,5 million euros up to 2025, part of which will be allocated to a blade recycling plant to be located in Navarra, Spain.