Fluoro ski wax take back program set for May in Colorado
Plant-based alternative company helping skiers dispose of potentially toxic substances
By now, lots of skiers and snowboarders have recognized that most traditional ski wax companies are contributors to the petroleum industry.
Many of those skiers and snowboarders aren’t so uncomfortable with the demand they’re creating for oil extraction in this regard, not to mention the fact that the polyfluoroalkyl substances used in ski wax can be toxic to the environment and do not biodegrade.
But even if you’ve switched to a plant-based wax, the question still remains: What on Earth you should do with the many bars of fluoro wax you still have in your collection?
Students from Western Colorado University, along with plant-based wax manufacturers MountainFLOW eco-wax, have been seeking a solution to this dilemma for the last 10 weeks, and presented their plan on Monday at the 2022 Wright Collegiate Challenge.
The idea is the outdoor recreation industry’s first and only fluoro wax take-back program.
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“Running through the month of May, the program provides the opportunity for people to get rid of their toxic waxes by visiting one of three retail partners across Colorado, or by utilizing the mail-in option for that outside of the state,” MountainFLOW eco-wax said in an announcement issued Thursday. “Participants in the program will receive swag and discount codes in exchange for their wax, but the incentive is ultimately to entice people to do their part in taking these harmful chemicals out of circulation and keeping them out of the snowpack.”
The Wright Collegiate Challenge describes itself as an effort to “prepare Colorado higher-ed students to enter the workforce by providing first-hand experience working alongside small businesses and nonprofit organizations,” while also looking to help develop actionable solutions to current-day challenges within the outdoor recreation industry sector.
The challenge is presented in partnership with the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office and takes place over the course of the collegiate spring semester. Students from Colorado Mesa University’s Outdoor Industry Studies Program, Colorado Mountain College’s Leadville campus, and Western Colorado University’s Outdoor Industry MBA Program formed teams this year.
The program culminated on Monday with a final live event where the teams, comprised of 27 students in total, presented their understanding of the challenge at hand and pitched their solution.
A panel of judges included various leaders in Colorado’s outdoor industry; the judges gave the students from Western Colorado University’s Outdoor Industry MBA Program the Best in Class award for their work with MountainFLOW eco-wax to develop the take-back program.
“What these students have accomplished in just 10 weeks is nothing short of amazing,” said Chuck Sullivan, executive director of the Wright Collegiate Challenge. “While the Wright Collegiate Challenge offers students the opportunity to get their hands dirty working alongside industry leaders like mountainFLOW eco-wax, we provide no roadmap. Here with the take-back program, we see the results of two student teams coming together to innovate, collaborate and creatively solve for a critical challenge facing our watersheds and the outdoor industry as a whole.”
Throughout May, you’ll be able to drop off wax at Salida Mountain Sports in Salida, Powder7 in Golden, and evo Denver. There will also be a fluorinated wax deposit box at the Wright Collegiate Challenge table at the Colorado Outdoor Industry Leadership Summit in Crested Butte May 19-20. More details on the program’s mail-in option will be forthcoming.
The team is following guidance from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for safe storage and eventual disposal.
“We are thrilled to be working the Wright Collegiate Challenge and a team of motivated students from Western Colorado University and Colorado Mesa University to tackle this important issue,” said Peter Arlein with Carbondale-based mountainFLOW eco-wax. “Fluorinated ski wax has been a known environmental concern for years, and our take-back program will ensure that this carcinogenic chemical will not be exposed to people or the environment.”