Material and sustainable equipment

Interest in sport and outdoor recreation has grown steadily in recent years, and people choose to spend a lot of money on clothing and sports equipment. But the materials are not always environmentally friendly. We therefore want to develop more sustainable materials and material flows and find ways of working, tools and methods to integrate recycling and reuse of equipment in this area.

Foto: mostphotos.com

In 2013, the sports and outdoor industry contributed approximately SEK 5.6 billion to Sweden’s GDP. Most sport and outdoor activities are also very equipment and technology intensive.

More sustainable materials and the importance of environmental assessments

One challenge for product manufacturers in the sport and outdoor industry is that polymers and plastics are made from ordinary oil. Large quantities of plastic are used in very short-lived products such as packaging materials, plastic bags, non-returnable glass bottles, cups, cutlery and plates. Much of the clothing that is worn is also based on polymers. The same applies to rucksacks, tents, canoes, skis, helmets, etc. Examining all the uses of polymers in the industry makes it clear that the development of recycling and more environmentally friendly polymers needs to have greater impact on the development of equipment.

The environmental assessment linked to the manufacturing of equipment in the sport and outdoor industry currently lags far behind that of many other industrial products such as vehicles, building design, household electronics and even food products.

Design, processes and business models for smarter material flows

We want to contribute to the development of sport and outdoor equipment to minimise resource use and negative environmental impact, while optimising the user experience and product performance. There is a need for new approaches in the design of materials and products, new types of environmentally friendly clothing treatment and business modelling that meet current expectations of sustainable products.

Functionality and great potential

Functionality and sustainability with the focus on reuse and recycling are examples of important criteria that designers and developers must take into account in a circular manufacturing process.

Equipment and clothing in the sport and outdoor industries also have great potential for new forms of second-hand markets as there are environmental benefits to the reuse of materials and products. As researchers we want to find new ways in collaboration with the industry.

 

Researchers

Mikael Bäckström, Mid Sweden University

Itai Danielski, Mid Sweden University

Vice theme leader

Senior lecturer, Ecotechnology and Building Engineering 

Areas of research: Integrated Environment Assessment 

Oskar Abrahamsson, University of Gothenburg

PhD Student in Human Geography

Areas of research: Human-Nature relations, Accessibility, Landscape, GIS, Physical planning, Outdoor recreation

Peter Fredman, Mid Sweden University

Anna Björklund, KTH Royal Institute of Technology

 

Judith Waller, Mid Sweden University