Ski wax take-back program aims to protect Colorado rivers

Margaret Jackson

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By Margaret Jackson / NewsBreak

(Carbondale, Colo.) Plant-based ski wax manufacturer mountainFLOW eco-wax is launching a take-back program for fluorinated ski wax.

Running through May, the program lets people get rid of their toxic waxes by visiting one of three retail partners across Colorado or by using the mail-in option. Program participants 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 the harmful chemicals out of circulation and keeping them out of the snowpack.

Retailers participating in the take-back program are Salida Mountain Sports, Powder7 in Golden and evo in Denver.

The Carbondale-based company is working with Outdoor Industry MBA students at Western Colorado University and undergraduate students from Colorado Mesa University’s Outdoor Industry Studies Program.

“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 mountainFLOW founder and CEO Peter Arlein. “Fluorinated ski wax has been a known environmental concern for years, and our take-back program will ensure this carcinogenic chemical will not be exposed to people or the environment.”

Forever chemicals don’t biodegrade

Fluorinated wax contains polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) known as “forever chemicals” because they don’t biodegrade. They also are carcinogenic to the user when applied and toxic to the environment.

Skiers apply a basecoat and topcoat of fluorinated wax to their skis or snowboards to form a hydrophobic barrier that minimizes friction, increasing the skier’s potential velocity threshold. But the friction from the snow breaks off microscopic particles of the wax, which then end up in watersheds.

Compounding the problem in Colorado is that many of the West’s prominent rivers have their headwaters in Colorado, meaning these forever particles can travel much farther than where they started at the top of a ski run.

Presented in partnership with the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, The Wright Collegiate Challenges is a semester-long program that prepares students to enter the workforce by providing first-hand experience working alongside small businesses and nonprofit organizations. the program develops actionable solutions to current-day challenges in the outdoor recreation industry.

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I'm a Denver-based business writer with expertise in commercial and residential real estate as well as general business news.

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