To demonstrate a collective commitment to sustainability, a group of five Italian companies in the Bergamo area have collaborated with the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) to make the bibs for the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships from totally recyclable materials.

The UCI released its Climate Action Charter in 2022, an action plan to advance the environmental sustainability of the sport with a specific aim of reducing waste and accelerating the transition to a circular economy. For the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, which are running from 3 – 13 August in Glasgow and across Scotland, the UCI turned to official partner Santini, to make the bibs that the staff (judges, volunteers, commissaires and others) and accredited photographers wear throughout the event.

To meet the ambition of the bibs having a second life after use, Santini created a supply chain made up of five ‘zero-mile’ companies, all located in the province of Bergamo: RadiciGroup, Sitip, EFI Reggiani and Acerbis. The bib fabrics were made from Italian nylon yarn produced by RadiciGroup. The properties of the yarn meant that the resulting material was well-suited for technical sportswear. The yarn was then used by Sitip to create the Aras NG warp-knitted fabric, a new and completely recyclable single-fibre material made from 100% polyamide and designed to meet both EFI Reggiani’s printing requirements and the recyclability criteria.

EFI Reggiani tested a wide range of fabrics to find the best colour results and resistance to rubbing and perspiration, necessary for the bibs’ intended use. In addition to using the new GOTS-certified EFI Reggiani Iris Plus water-based inks, EFI Reggiani opted to print via transfer paper that does not consume water and requires a minimal amount of energy per square metre. Transfer from paper to fabric was carried out by Santini, which also assembled the finished garments using thread and other components made of nylon in order to allow the bibs to enter the recycling stage without any kind of further processing.

The plan is for the bibs to be transformed at the end of the event into new raw materials to be used again within the cycling world via a re-granulation process that RadiciGroup has verified at its plants. The resulting materials can be used by Acerbis to create a finished product, the X-Elite handguards, which are attached to the handlebars of some mountain bikes to protect the riders’ hands and shield the brake levers during falls.