Rossignol presents the most recyclable ski in the world

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Just in time for Earth Day, Rossignol has unveiled its most recyclable ski yet: the Essential, a versatile carving ski made with as few and as many fully recyclable materials as possible.

The Essential ski with a 69 mm waist is made mainly of aluminum (35%), wood (35%) and steel (7%), and 62% of the raw materials used are either recycled or certified “natural and biobased”. The ski also features a simple topsheet that uses no solvents or water, and was produced at Rossignol’s factory in Sallanche, France, which uses renewable energy.

“Improving the end-of-life management of a product means better design from the start,” explains David Bouvier, senior marketing director of Rossignol’s mountain sports group. “Compared to a conventional ski with a current average recycling rate of only 10%, we are delighted to report that over 75% of the Essential ski can be recycled. By 2028, our goal is for a third of our ski collection to be developed using this same approach and philosophy.

It’s not perfect – the Essential still contains 12% plastic and 5% precious wood, which are not sustainable materials – but according to Nick Castagnoli, Rossignol brand marketing director for North America, it is exciting progress.

“Some people want to throw darts and accuse organizations of greenwashing when they try something like this, but unfortunately there’s no magic switch here,” Castagnoli says. “We need to focus on progression rather than perfection. It is a step in the right direction. It’s not necessarily something you can do overnight. You must have a proof of concept. Now we know we can do it.

According to Rossignol, the Essential is not only a recyclable ski or a novelty, but a real performance ski worthy of the 115-year-old brand and reputation. “We had to be sure that we were contributing to a more circular and environmentally friendly economy and that we were also building a performing all-mountain ski,” explains Castagnoli. The narrow-waisted shape uses less material, but also lends itself to balanced, carvy piste skiing.

For Rossignol, the Essential is a big step forward for the brand in terms of durability, but also a start.

Celebrating its 115th anniversary in 2022, Rossignol touts its commitment to more sustainable product development, eco-responsible design, product life cycle and recycling solutions. It began this effort in 2020 by officially launching its RESPECT programme: a large-scale corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative with goals to reduce the company’s carbon footprint by 30% by 2030 and its waste industries by 40% by 2025.

Rossignol-owned factories are already powered by renewable energy, and all of the group’s manufacturing facilities will be running on renewable energy by January 2023. But producing things with renewable energy doesn’t matter if the things you produce are still harmful for the environment.

The company therefore plans to continue its simplicity and recyclability strategy in its other product collections under development, including ski boots, technical equipment and clothing. It will also lean heavily on recycling. To meet the challenges of recycling winter sports equipment, often made with toxic and/or difficult to recycle materials, the Rossignol group has entered into a partnership with MTB, a major player in recycling and related manufacturing processes. MTB has recently developed a new waterless process to improve the recycling of conventional modern ski constructions, including waterless shredding and improved sorting and separation technology.

These improvements in the recycling process have been developed alongside the Essential ski to maximize the objective of “contributing to a circular economy and the life cycle of the product”, according to Rossignol. The recycled materials can then be reused in the automotive, garden or construction industries, and in the future, in the new products of the Rossignol group. MTB also announces the launch of Recycling Box in 2023: an innovative new tool allowing better recycling of modern constructions of conventional skis, boots and poles.

“In the field of ski equipment, this is not an easy task,” says Castagnoli. They are generally not materials that are easy to recycle and reuse. This requires an almost entirely new business model and design processes from the start. And when the ski reaches the end of its life, it’s not that simple. It’s how, what, who. Also, what prompts a customer to return this ski? It’s a bit of a new frontier on a lot of different levels.

For skiers, the answer to the incentive question should be fairly obvious.

“As mountain people, we live and breathe this stuff every day,” Castagnoli says. “From a personal and professional point of view, we are really on the front line of seeing the impacts of climate change. Trying to move the needle in the right direction is an important task, and it’s another step we’re taking in that direction.

This story was first published by SKI.

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