Dedicated to minimising the harmful impact of its operations, sports goods retailer Decathlon has announced an undisclosed investment in the start-up Recyc’Elit through its Decathlon Alliances platform.

Established in 2019 in Lyon, France and spearheaded by brothers and PhD holders in science Karim and Raouf Medimagh, the company has engineered a technique for recycling intricate polyester-based materials through fibre separation. Its forthcoming objective is to scale up this groundbreaking innovation for industrial application.

Additionally, Recyc’Elit aims to have its very first prototype ready by 2025. “The recycling of intricate textiles, particularly polyester, and blending it with other fibres, stands as a paramount focus for Decathlon, and Recyc’Elit emerges as a reliable collaborator in crafting recycled products from textile refuse,” states the Mulliez family-owned chain in a press statement.

Furthermore, Decathlon plans to procure recycled polyester from the start-up in the foreseeable future, aiming to “sustain its competitive advantage while actively engaging in the textile recycling value chain.” A long-term commercial partnership has been unveiled, encompassing the development of capsule collections and, in broader terms, “establishing a value chain alongside Recyc’Elit and all dedicated partners eager to partake in this initiative,” as stated by Decathlon.

In October 2023, the start-up secured €3.2 million in funding from Demeter through the Fonds d’Amorçage Industriel Métropolitain (FAIM) Lyon—Saint Etienne and UI Investissement, along with the Banque des Territoires, representing the French government under the France 2030 initiative, Crédit Agricole Création, and a consortium of business angels.

Next, Decathlon identifies sustainability as one of the critical pillars in CEO Barbara Martin Coppola’s “North Star” strategic blueprint, revealed last March. This initiative encompasses a refreshed visual identity, an enhanced store layout, and a streamlined assortment of in-house brands.

In addition, with a global network of 1,700 stores, the company achieved total sales of 15.6 billion euros in 2023, marking a modest increase of 1.15%, alongside a net profit of 931 million euros, reflecting a growth of 0.9%.

decathlon x Recyc’Elit
The founders of RecycElit Image Source RecycElit

Karim and Raouf Medimagh, Recyc’Elit’s President and CEO, explain: “Together, we can reverse the trend of textile waste, converting it into a valuable resource within our circular economy. “This partnership with Decathlon perfectly aligns with our values. Beyond our evident human synergy, our companies are committed to creating a foundation to propel the textile industry into its next phase in the coming years.”

About Recyc’Elit

Recyc’Elit revolutionises the current linear consumption model of the textile sector—produce, consume, dispose of—by shifting to a circular model—produce, consume, recycle. This transformation enables the continuous production of virgin-quality materials with a low carbon footprint. With the support of dedicated collaborators and a network of partners, Recyc’Elit aims to deploy its patented technology. This technology operates at low temperatures and atmospheric pressure, allowing the selective separation of complex polyester-based textiles and the commercialization of high-value materials.

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