Skip to Content

Salomon debuts Brigade INDEX Recyclable Winter Sports Helmet

Skyblue Overland may earn a small commission from affiliate links in this article.

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

After years of innovation, the Salomon Brigade INDEX helmet is ready for market. It’s unique because it can be fully recycled and uses 98% of materials from a single plastics family. This is a groundbreaking advance in helmet construction.

After four years of hard work and innovation, Salomon’s Brigade INDEX ski and snowboard helmet is finally ready to hit the market. This helmet stands out from others because it can be fully recycled once it reaches the end of its lifespan. This is a groundbreaking advancement in helmet construction, as the Brigade INDEX utilizes 98% of materials from a single plastics family.

“A traditional helmet is very complex to recycle because it mixes different materials and we can’t separate those materials at the end of the helmet’s life, which is why helmets often end up in a landfill or burned. So we needed to find a way to use materials from the same family for all parts, to create a simple recycling process,” says Nans Girodengo, Research & Development Specialist for Salomon’s Protective team.

The Salomon research and development team faced a unique challenge when creating the Brigade INDEX helmet: finding technical solutions that would allow for a helmet made entirely of one material, without sacrificing performance or safety. Ultimately, they succeeded in pioneering a new methodology that enables complete recycling of the helmet at the end of its lifespan, eliminating the need for disassembly.

Watch the video below to delve deeper into the creation of the Brigade INDEX, the first recyclable winter sports helmet:

Starting From Scratch with One Family of Material

Salomon’s Brigade INDEX project initially seemed daunting: the idea of completely abandoning their tried and tested materials, pieces, and processes after 22 years of helmet making. Collaborating with Paprec, a French company specializing in waste management and material recycling, the Salomon team embarked on a quest for a single material family that could be used throughout the entire helmet.

After careful consideration, they chose polypropylene (PP), a thermoplastic that could be molded into different shapes and required less energy to produce than other thermoplastics, reducing the helmet’s overall environmental impact. They then set out to redesign every component of the helmet using materials from the polypropylene family while maintaining the same level of comfort and protection.

“The stars really aligned during the development of this project because the demand for recycled materials had been strongly increasing and Paprec mentioned that there was a heavy need for recycled PP, especially in the automobile industry,” says Thibaut Montagnoni, Research & Development Project Manager for the Salomon’s Protective team. “They had already constructed a circuit for PP to be recycled, which led us to explore the feasibility of using it for this helmet project.”

Throughout the development process, our research and development team experimented with 10 different designs for the helmet. This included testing various types and shapes of polypropylene as well as different injection techniques. Initially, they anticipated that the outer shell and inner core – which are crucial components for protection and shock absorption – would be the most challenging to perfect. However, after extensive testing, they discovered that polypropylene not only has strong durability and is resistant to scratches, but also provides excellent shock absorption when expanded.

“The outer shell is the most subject to scratching and damaging, but internal abrasion testing found that polypropylene offered great resistance to damage and didn’t create any issue regarding durability once the finish coating was applied,” describes Nans Girodengo. “We sent some Brigade INDEX helmets to ski schools, who are known for having a quite intense use of their gear. No issue on quality or durability was raised following these tests either. For the inner core, we also discovered that EPP4D, the expanded version of polypropylene, did a better job at absorbing micro-impact and reforming back to its original shape after an impact than expanded polystyrene (EPS4D).”

The helmet was carefully designed to eliminate any unnecessary parts. For example, the neck strap is no longer connected with rivets, but instead is sewn onto a slot in the outer shell of the helmet. The goggle retainer has also been simplified, replacing the combination of a riveted strap and elastic with a single plastic piece.

Ultimately, the helmet is comprised of 96% polypropylene in various forms. The outer shell is made by injecting pellets into molds, while the core is made of expanded polypropylene. Even the textile components are woven with strands of polypropylene. This certification from Paprec confirms that the helmet is completely recyclable, as it meets the requirement of using at least 95 percent of materials from the same family. However, a few exceptions were necessary to maintain certain aspects such as rigidity and comfort.

  • The male part of the buckle and the adjustment wheel in the back of the helmet use polyoxymethylene (POM) to ensure the same level of rigidity over time and avoid distortion.
  • The padding around the ears as well as parts of the helmet’s core uses EVA for comfort reasons.

Photo: Salomon

Salomon’s efforts set a new standard in the industry

The Brigade INDEX helmet has a significantly lower environmental impact than traditional counterparts, with a reduction of 19%. This is achieved through the utilization of polyolefins, specifically polypropylene, which requires less energy to produce compared to other thermoplastics. Additionally, the helmet can be recycled at the end of its lifespan, further decreasing its environmental footprint.

Salomon’s Winter Sports department has had a long-standing dedication to reducing the environmental footprint of its products. Most recently, the company conducted a life-cycle analysis (LCA) on their top products, such as Nordic and alpine skis, snowboards, bindings, helmets, and goggles. This thorough evaluation revealed the precise environmental impact at each stage of production, from obtaining raw materials to managing disposal post-use. The results have helped shape Salomon’s climate strategy worldwide with accurate data based on scientific research.

“The fact that we have openly shared the results of all our LCA is also a way to contribute to the broader transformation of the industry,” explains Xavier Le Guen, Vice President of Salomon Winter Sports Equipment.

How to recycle a brigade index helmet

When the Brigade INDEX helmet reaches the end of its life, it can be easily recycled by shipping it to a collection center using the QR code on the tag. The shipping label can be printed for free and dropped off at any post office. From there, the helmets will be transported to the PAPREC facility in Verdun, France, where they will be ground down and repurposed into various items such as flowerpots, car bumpers, or terrace studs. There is no need for consumers to disassemble the helmet before recycling it since PAPREC has the capability to filter out any non-polypropylene components. Each returned helmet will be sent directly to PAPREC for recycling, without the need to wait for a large number of helmets to accumulate before processing.

“We estimate that a helmet can last for 5 years, considering it is used 10 days per year and we know we won’t receive many helmets during the first years, but this is a long-term project,” explains Benjamin Raffort, Product Line Manager for the Protective team. “We know that we need to educate our consumers on the process of sending the product back instead of just disposing of it,” says Raffort. “This has already been started thanks to the Salomon INDEX Road running shoe, which can also be sent back for recycling at the end of its life. We know that exploring these topics will create a virtuous circle, with more people being eager to take the extra steps that will allow more products to be recycled.”

About Salomon

Salomon is the modern mountain sports lifestyle brand creating innovative, premium and authentic footwear, apparel and winter sports equipment in the French Alps. At the Annecy Design Center, designers, engineers and athletes intersect to shape the future of sports and culture. At Salomon, we exist to unleash the best in people through mountain sports.

Popular Articles:

Salomon Releases New Trail Running Gear For Spring/Summer

Salomon Releases Spring/Summer 2024 Hiking Collection

Salomon’s Spring/Summer ’24 Running Collection: Comfort and Stability on Every Road Run

New Innovations on Flexibility, Eco-Materials, and Boot Fit in Salomon’s 2023/24 Alpine Ski Collection

Daily Gear Digest: Mission Workshop, Smith Optics and Stio

Put Your Soundtrack Into Your Ski Helmet With Wireless Audio