They make sneakers with recycled wind blades

Wind turbine blades are much more difficult to recycle because they are made of composite materials such as fiberglass, carbon fiber, epoxy resin and other polymers.

This combination of materials, which allows the blades to achieve the appropriate characteristics in terms of durability, flexibility and weight, forced us to look for more innovative solutions. Acciona Energía and the fashion brand El Ganso have joined forces to launch a unique sneaker worldwide with a sole made from recycled wind turbine blades.

It has been more than a year since Acciona Energía agreed with Spanish fashion brand El Ganso to form an alliance based on their shared commitment to sustainable development and the circular economy. Thus was born the first joint project, the objective of which was to recycle materials such as decommissioned wind blades and use them to produce an exclusive line of environmentally friendly sneakers.

Circular economy

"Circularity is one of the fundamental pillars of our vision of sustainable development. Acciona Energía's waste recycling rate worldwide reaches 97%. This means that we have managed to give a second life to most of our waste. Now, thanks to this initiative together with El Ganso, we celebrate a new milestone by becoming the first project to recycle wind blades and give them a second life in the textile sector.”explains José Entrecanales, Chief Finance and Sustainability Officer (CFSO) of Acciona Energía.

Wind blades for the manufacture of sneaker soles

When the company spoke to El Ganso, they discovered a unique opportunity to use material from wind turbine blades to complement the rubber used in the soles of sports shoes. Multiple abrasion, torsion and flexibility tests were performed to ultimately determine that this combination of materials retains the essential stability, traction and durability properties of conventional running shoes.

"When Acciona Energía offered to collaborate with us we did not hesitate at all. At El Ganso we always strive to do more to reduce our carbon footprint. We have never collaborated on anything like this, and although wind turbine blades have many different uses beyond their useful life, there is nothing in the pipeline yet"said Alberto Cebrián, CFO and COO of El Ganso.

From heaven to your feet

This line of sneakers is manufactured from a 23-meter blade from the Aybar wind farm, in Navarra, in operation since 1998. For more than 20 years, this blade has captured the wind to generate 12.500 megawatt hours of electricity. clean energy equivalent to the consumption of 3.500 homes, helping to avoid the emission of 5.461 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. Or something similar: the purifying effect of 300.000 trees.

"From a disused wind turbine blade we have obtained a very fine powder that contains glass fibers and resins, combined with rubber, which has allowed us to create a sole that retains its traditional characteristics.”says Asun Padrós, innovation project manager at Acciona Energía.

wind blades

To obtain this powder, the shovel uses a micronization process, which consists of reducing the size of glass fibers and epoxy resin to microns through mechanical transformation. The next step is to calculate the percentage of this material in the rubber to obtain a sole that maintains the typical properties of stability, grip and durability.

In this line of sneakers, 20% of the waste from the shoe tongue has been incorporated into the rubber during the production of the new line of environmentally friendly footwear. One of the goals is to create shoes with zero footprint and carbon neutrality.

"The upper, which is the upper part of the shoe, is made with vegan leather with a manufacturing system by which the pollution emitted is maintained and controlled. As for the inner insole, it is breathable and 100% recycled, made of polyurethane. Care is taken to really reduce CO2 emissions”explains Francisco Rodríguez, head of design and development.

"El Ganso x Acciona" presents an exclusive design that combines the branding of both companies and refers to the origin of the recycled materials used to produce the sole, reflecting the commitment of both companies to sustainability, circularity and innovation.

Other applications for wind blades

For Acciona Energía, the production of footwear is an outlet for the wind turbine blades, but not the only one. Recently, the company also carried out a pilot project to recycle blades wind farms of turbines and use them in the manufacture of support beams for photovoltaic panels.

The resulting four beams successfully replaced the galvanized metal columns that normally support photovoltaic panels. These recycled material beams have undergone the same processing and performance as other beams, with the same installation time and cost, demonstrating their interchangeability.

"The dust generated from the micronization of wind turbine blades is very versatile and can be used as a secondary raw material in the production of many other products.”says Asun Padrós, head of innovation projects at Acciona Energía.

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