biobased ski wax

Skiers, Trade In Your ‘Forever Chemical’ Bad Wax for Safer Stuff: Here’s How

One Colorado company has a solution for anyone who loves buttery-slick skis but wants to rid their kit of toxic chemicals.

Want to ditch “forever chemicals” forever? MountainFLOW eco-wax also wants you to. And this May, the company is offering the industry’s first takeback program for traditional fluorocarbon ski wax.

The Carbondale, Colo.-based company manufactures plant-based, biodegradable ski wax from various plant sources. Founded in 2016, it’s now a certified B-corp, and its products are USDA-certified biobased — 0% petroleum, 100% plants.

“[The industry is] drilling oil to make ski wax,” mountainFLOW founder and CEO Peter Arlein said online. “That’s crazy, right? All the wax on your skis ends up in the snowpack and eventually in the local rivers. You can extract wax from a bunch of different plants. We should be able to replicate the performance of a traditional ski wax.”

Based on most user comments, the company is steadily proving its concept: Consistently, it can replicate that performance.

Wax Takeback ‘Entices’ Skiers

Now, the brand’s actively trying to remove fluorinated ski wax from the slopes. With help from several outdoor-focused university programs in its home region, its takeback program gives skiers and snowboarders two ways to eliminate toxic waxes: (1) visit one of three retail partners across Colorado or (2) utilize the mail-in option if you’re not in the area.

Why not just chuck your old wax in the trash? For one, bonuses from mountainFLOW are on tap. You’ll get swag and discount codes in exchange for sending in your traditional wax. The incentive, though, is ultimately to “entice people to do their part in taking harmful chemicals out of circulation and keeping them out of the snowpack.”

biobased ski wax
(Photos/mountainFLOW)

It’s no secret that fluorinated chemicals — especially PFAS, the main ingredient in petroleum ski wax — are everywhere. They don’t biodegrade, and research has proven they’re incredibly toxic in waterways.

Notwithstanding, a wide range of outdoor gear like wax and DWR treatments have relied on them for years. The resulting toxicity problem has compelled brands across the industry to take a stand. The state government of Vermont even banned the sale of all consumer products containing PFAS last year in a series of highly decisive votes.

How to Trade In Your Wax

You can turn in your petroleum-based ski wax from May 1 to 31 to glean the mountainFLOW program’s benefits.

Dropoff locations include:

If you’re in Crested Butte for the Colorado Outdoor Industry Leadership Summit from May 19 to 20, you can drop off your wax at the Wright Collegiate Challenge table.

As part of the Collegiate Challenge, mountainFLOW recruited help for the program from Outdoor Industry MBA students at Western Colorado University and an undergraduate team from Colorado Mesa University’s Outdoor Industry Studies Program.

Alternatively, you can even mail your wax to 201 Main St., Suite 303, Carbondale, CO, 81623. The company expressed a long-term goal of scaling the initiative “much further,” primarily via the mail-in option.

The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment guides the team on the safe storage and eventual disposal of submitted waxes.

MountainFLOW noted it would “almost certainly” lose money on the project. But it said, “[We] feel strongly that it is the right thing to do and hope that it inspires others to take action.”

Arlein, “Fluorinated ski wax has been a known environmental concern for years, and our takeback program will ensure that this carcinogenic chemical will not be exposed to people or the environment.

“We are thrilled to be working with a team of motivated students from Western Colorado University and Colorado Mesa University to tackle this important issue.”

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Sam Anderson
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Sam Anderson is a staff writer at GearJunkie, and several other All Gear websites.

He has been writing about climbing, cycling, running, wildlife, outdoor policy, the outdoor industry, vehicles, and more for 2 years. Prior to GearJunkie, he owned and operated his own business before freelancing at GearHungry. Based in Austin, Texas, Anderson loves to climb, boulder, road bike, trail run, and frequent local watering holes (of both varieties).