The ski and snowsports industries are working to solve a “black diamond run” environmental problem: recycling 300 tons of old gear, including skis, bindings and boots. The mixed composition of winter sports equipment makes recycling a tricky proposition, but a new initiative from the industry is moving forward to break down and even repurpose the materials into new gear.
My December 30, 2011 story for the Northern Colorado Business Report looks at the progress of the initiative, and how a local recycling company is teaming up with the industry.
Here’s an excerpt:
Beginning in 2007, SIA, representing winter sports gear manufacturers and retailers, voluntarily launched a corporate-responsibility recycling program. The project was aimed at educating consumers to bring old equipment to retail stores, and its pilot phase focused on the Rocky Mountain region.
In three seasons working with just a handful of retail outlets, the SIA’s Greg Schneider said the program has compiled a whopping 300 tons of skis, boots and other gear. But the group had struggled to figure out how to actually process the trashed equipment, because winter sports products use composite plastics, wood fiber, aluminum and other metals that must be separated into usable materials. In the meantime, the backlog has sat in a Goodwill warehouse in Denver.
“We’re always looking for ways that we can repurpose the old equipment,” Schneider said. “It’s like the holy grail.”