Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Enviromental route setting?

To keep with the Green theme the route setting department i.e. Mike A.K.A me has been researching how climbing holds are made and looking into whether we can source our holds from the most sustainable companies out there. But first I had to find out how the holds are made.

Unfortunately for the world the results were not good. Currently these are some the materials that are going into making the pretty plastic shapes we love so much;
Styrene, Methyl Ethyl Ketone Peroxide, Epichlorohydrine, Bisphenol-A ,Toluene diisocyanate-TDI, Hexamethylene diisocyanate-HMDI

If these words mean as much to you as they did to me let me summarise what some of these bad boys can do;
They are Carcinogenic, mutagenic, harmful to skin and eyes, form explosive mixtures in the air, highly flammable, extremely destructive to tissue , affect embryo or foetus, are a reproductive hazard, very toxic by inhalation and may explode when heated! Don’t panic and run for your bio hazard outfit just yet though because all these materials become stable once cured and the finished hold is perfectly safe to handle.

So with this newfound knowledge on the materials involved I emailed all the hold companies we currently purchase holds from and asked them what their stand on the hold making game was and what, if any, environmental policies they had.

From the responses I got and through further research via it was becoming clear that the technology for making quality environmentally friendly climbing holds just is not out there at the moment.

So what can I do? At this stage we can concentrate on the companies with the strongest written environmental policies and avoid air freight delivery. So our latest purchases have been with Bulgarian based HRT safety whose green policy is extremely strong and make the majority of the holds we have ordered from Polyurethane. We have also ordered from Chesterfield based company Core Climbing.

So where can hold manufacturing go from here? According to sites such as Greengrip the technologies and materials are becoming available but they need to be embraced and tested via the companies that are making 1000’s of holds every week. On the current available materials side companies such as HRT and Holdz are now switching over to a Polyurethane set-up similar to that of the American market. Polyurethane is used as opposed to Polyester resin which is a different form of plastic that uses around a fifth less material to make each hold and this form of the plastic is less toxic in handling and is therefore said to be more environmentally friendly way of producing climbing holds.
From here it’s over to those companies who make the holds to push the technology forward and try and reduce the impact that hold production currently has on the environment.

1 comment:

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