Today, Salomon employees face a new challenge: how to reduce the environmental impact of ALL products, without having to increase the price or decrease their performance. To reach the company objective of being completely PFC-free in 2023, every expert in each category works on removing plastic pieces from Salomon products in order to improve their sustainable performance.
Thibaut Montagnoni, Research & Development Project Manager for the Active/Protective department, specifically oversees ski helmets, goggles, Nordic and alpine ski poles and back protections. He’s job entails overseeing group projects with people from the marketing team, commercial team, design team, operational team, in order to lead R&D efforts in the Active/Protective department. Recently, his job has added a sustainability element to it. The path to more sustainable products starts by looking closely at every piece of each product and investigating the possible alternatives.
“We list every aspect that can be improved before deciding what changes are possible” Montagnoni explains. They looked at alternatives for the entire active/protective range, including removing plastic bags from ski poles, plastic-free boxes for goggles and using bamboo shafts for poles. The team then had to consider the impact on the price of the product:
“We want to be able to offer a product that is the same price but we want to make it more responsibly,” Montagnoni says.
In the past, ski poles were packaged by pair, and each pair was put inside one plastic bag. This was meant to avoid damage to the poles during shipping. The active/protective team realized they could eliminate this large plastic bag used to ship the poles and replace it with a small plastic clip to hold each pair of poles together in order to prevent them from being damaged. The only pieces of plastic left are the clip and the tag, for which Thibaut already has plans. “We’re looking into using recycled plastic for the clip, and a piece of string to attach the tag,” he explains.
Poles with a foam handle, which represents 2 percent of Salomon’s ski pole range, still require some bubble wrap on the handle to avoid damage. The active/protective team also created a box that packs 25 pairs of ski poles, used for shipping, which is then used for in-store presentation once opened.
There has also been work done on ski goggle packaging. Previously, goggle packaging included a plastic window that made it possible to see the goggle through the box. The team at Salomon decided to replace this packaging with a full cardboard box, meaning they could remove the plastic window as well as the glue used to connect it to the box, making it more sustainable.
These efforts are having a real impact. With roughly 200,000 pairs of Salomon ski poles sold every year, removing plastic bags saves over 5.4 tons of plastic, which translates to 12.6 tons of CO2 equivalent. To give some perspective, 12.6 tons of CO2 equivalent represents 12 round trips from Paris to New York, or what the average French person pollutes in one year. In the future, additional sustainable options will be available, and the team is excited to continue improving their footprint.
“We’re currently working on getting the FSC label for all our boxes: helmets, goggles and poles.” Montagnoni explains