Learn more about low-impact skiing and how snow sports can become more sustainable, from the skis to the mountain operations.

THE SLOPES

Today: Currently, snow management contributes greatly to the sport’s carbon impact. Diesel-fueled groomers shift snow during a large portion of the off-hours, for a perfect carving surface and fun park. In many places, a large part of the snow is also produced synthetically resulting in further energy-related emissions and impacts on local water supplies.

Tomorrow: Electric or hydrogen powered groomers may mitigate the climate emissions, as well as opening more backcountry ski areas with “natural” slopes and less machine work in the remaining cold climate zones. At the same time, almost all snow within the groomed ski areas can either be stored from a previous season or produced, due to a warmer climate.

SKIS

Today: A major part of the materials used in skiing involve a complex mix of wood, foams, plastics, metals, and fibers laminated together by epoxy glues. These, in turn, are produced with a considerable amount of fossil energy in the supply chain.

Tomorrow: Consciously selected materials that enable repair, refurbishment, and recovery of materials after use, use glues that can be taken apart in the recycling stage. Most materials and involved chemistry are either bio-based or recycled, and are produced using only renewable energy for both factories and transports.

BINDINGS

Today: Mechanical pieces made of virgin metals and plastics that are often thought of as an accessory to the ski. They are replaced when something breaks and are discarded when the ski breaks.

Tomorrow: Parts must be made to last and outlast the binding itself – while other parts are made for wear. These will be highly serviceable products that are also made for disassembly. Bindings will outlast the skis and long-lasting parts can be used in the next generation of bindings. Wear parts, meanwhile, go to material recycling.

 

BOOTS AND PROTECTION

Today: A mix of plastics, foams, textiles, and some metal. Generally are made from virgin materials, with very low content of recycled materials and not designed for recycling. Personal Protection regulations set strict rules on the lifespan and when a product should be replaced.

Tomorrow: Products are made for service, disassembly, and recycling. Condition monitoring is made simple with chips that log skiing and impact forces, and scanning devices in the service shop indicate material integrity issues. Priority is now to change parts rather than whole products. Worn-out parts, meanwhile, go to recycling.

 

TUNING, REPAIRS, REFURBISHMENT

Today: Tuning and waxing is a standard offer, while repairs and refurbishing can be made if you find a good ski technician on your own. The lifespan of a ski is unclear, as there are no simple indicators of when it has lost its performance.

Tomorrow: As key to multiplying product lifecycles, every ski store/rental offer tuning and simpler repairs of all their products. More complex repairs and full refurbishment are supported by the brands, with educated ski technicians available in all skiing countries. An accredited, honest condition assessment of skis, bindings, poles, and protective equipment can be done in any repair shop.

 

RECYCLABILITY

Today: For skis and snowboards, epoxy solutions are available that can be dissolved, breaking up the product into its different materials and parts for recycling. However, only a few such products are on the market. Poles in aluminum can be material recycled if there is collection of metals in your country. Helmets and other protection are generally incinerated or landfilled.

Tomorrow: At the end-of-life, no valuable parts or materials should go to waste. Full-scale industry collaboration around recyclability standards influences material choices, design for recyclability and marking of parts to make sorting simple. Joint efforts have similarly built collection systems, sorting and recycling facilities that re-utilize the products and materials at their highest value.

 

 

Illustrations: Jonna Fransson

Tags:
SUSTON
jonathan.eidse@norragency.com
No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

More Stories

Gore: Just care for your product

Gore-Tex products are made to last. But users need to do their part too. By properly caring for your products, you can continue to love them for longer.

By GORE

Is the Planetary Boundaries framework the new sustainability paradigm?

Find out what the Planetary Boundaries framework means for sustainability in the outdoor industry.

By Jonathan Eidse

PFAS: A Complex Reality

Rab shares its journey to phase-out “forever chemicals,” revealing where these are still in use through their open-source Material Facts tables.

By Rab

Deuter: Together We Care

Out of love for nature and people, Deuter is working to reduce its CO2 footprint. Not alone, but together with others. Many small actions can make a big difference.

By Deuter

More News