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There’s nothing quite like the feeling of clicking into a brand new pair of skis. 

However, as I become more involved in the climate space, each new addition to my quiver brings an underlying sense of guilt. I can’t help but think about the role I’m playing in contributing to a culture of consumerism and waste. Sure, I got a few good seasons out of my old skis, but was that really enough to justify tossing them in a landfill?

It seems like the folks over at Rossignol feel the same way. But thankfully, their thoughts didn’t just manifest themselves in the form of worry and guilt, but in the form of the ESSENTIAL ski. A ski built with its entire life-cycle in mind. 77% of the ESSENTIAL’s materials are recyclable (10 times the recyclability of the average ski in today’s market, which generally hover around 7%). And despite being made of unorthodox materials, this ski is no wet noodle; it’s passed all the same durability tests Rossignol subjects its more-traditional skis to.


To my surprise, a production ski with this level of recyclability and bio-sourced material has never actually been released. Rossignol has shown they are more than willing to cater to an increasing number of eco-conscious consumers in an industry lacking environmentally-friendly options.

And the cherry on top? Rossignol didn’t even patent the technology they’ve developed, hoping that other industry brands will soon follow suit and release their own lines of eco-friendly skis. Talk about an industry leader.

We sat down with Rossignol’s David Bouvier, to discuss the ESSENTIAL’s forward-thinking design and how the ski industry can do its part to fight the climate crisis.

POW Canada (POWC): The ESSENTIAL ski really feels like a game-changer. Can you explain the decision to launch the industry’s first eco-friendly ski?

David Bouvier (DB): At a company level we launched the Respect Program two years ago with a real commitment to responsibility towards our playground, our employees, our community and our products. We are lucky enough to be part of a company where the CEO and board of directors are aware of the climate crisis and are pushing every initiative that can have a positive impact.

On the other hand the ESSENTIAL project has been in the pipeline for five or six years, working on several R&D prototypes and working closely with a recyclable factory.

POWC: Eco-friendly product offerings seem like an area where the ski industry is lagging. Why has nobody done this before?

DB: One of the main challenges we have as an industry is the drastic change in our ecosystem. To be able to recycle on a massive scale we need to better organize the collection of skis. We have to work collectively to define the next normality - it’s way deeper than to just adapt the existing one. And this is where we are willing to participate actively. We have to think bigger than the ski itself, this could be one of the reasons why.

POWC: We heard that you didn’t apply for a patent because you want to make this new technology and process available to the whole industry. Can you give us more details on why you’ve made that decision and if you are already hearing about other brands who are interested in doing the same?

DB: The ESSENTIAL is more than a product, it’s a movement. We would like this movement to be collaborative and open. It may seem weird at first glance, but we are convinced that collectively we will build a better future. We have to go beyond our fears and competitive landscape. We have to grow to gather, to feed each other. It’s not utopian, it's the new reality; it’s bigger than us. This is why we made this decision, and yes we are in discussions with other brands and we are very excited to help them in this journey.


POWC: What is Rossignol’s long term vision with this new technology? Are you looking at expanding this into your other line of products? Do you envision bringing the recycling process to North America to reduce your carbon footprint?

DB: We envision deploying this thinking/design to 30% of our ski range by 2027. All our product lines are now working on improving their carbon footprint with a closer look at life-cycle assessment. We are conscious that we are at the very beginning; new innovations will come, new ideas, we will never stop improving in that space.

POWC: When the customer recycles the ski, the ski goes back to Rossignol in France. Has the supply chain/associated emissions of this process been considered in the product’s environmental impact?

DB: The Essential skis will go back to Rossignol through our partners. Our life-cycle analysis shows that the end of life component of the process represents between 5%-9% of the ski’s carbon footprint.

We are discussing how to implement the recycling process in North America. To do that, we are working closely with our partner MTB [More Than Business] and other organizations.

POWC: A production ski made of this level of recyclable material has never been made, can you speak to the durability of the ESSENTIAL ski?

DB: We’ve made a recyclable ski, but first and foremost it’s a Rossignol. This ski adheres to our company standards in terms of durability. We’ve never compromised on skiability or snow performance. The Rossignol consumer is demanding, and we have to be at their level.

POWC: Once recycled, 6% of the ESSENTIAL ski becomes waste - what are the materials that cannot be recycled?

DB: During the recyclability process we produce dust that we can’t yet separate. A mix of steel, aluminum, plastic mainly.

POWC: Anything else about the ski you’d like to mention?

DB: This project has been a game changer at Rossignol. As an employee, I can see the positive impact it has on every one of us. We are all living with ecoanxiety and projects like this one makes Rossignol’s people proud. It gives a new, really positive energy. We are living the change.  

The process is humbling, and failure is part of the success. We have to try, nothing is perfect but we have no choice.

Everyone of us should just take a minute and answer, with pure honesty, the following:

If not me, then who? If not now, then when?



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