Park City’s Recycle Utah slides into fluorinated Ski Wax Take Back program

PARK CITY, Utah — As skiing and snowboarding begins for this season, Recycle Utah is urging people to get rid of their wax from LAST season. From now until April 15, wax can be dropped off 24/7 near the office door by the other hard-to-recycle items (e.g.: ink cartridges, light bulbs, and batteries). 

Recycle Utah hopes locals and visitors will want to simply turn in their old, predominantly nordic and downhill ski race waxes. Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), also known as forever chemicals, have been detected by the Park City Municipal Water Department in local groundwater wells and wastewater. 

The Ski Wax Take Back program was, in part, implemented as a real-world-timing result of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the summer, issuing updated drinking water Health Advisories with regulations pending.

Park City isn’t alone. Winter outdoor enthusiasts all around the world are dealing with similar issues. Regionally, Recycle Utah has joined in discussions with ski towns in Colorado with a shared goal to stop continued environmental impacts. Fluorocarbon ski wax is “likely” responsible for low-level PFAS contamination.

Carolyn Wawra, Executive Director of Recycle Utah, said, “The City approached us. They were looking for a way to collect ski waxes and get them out of our waste streams and our water here. They need a place to collect it and dispose of it properly. Well, we’re kind of experts at Recycle Utah in collecting things and disposing of them properly, so we were happy to hop in to help them.” 

More modern wax, Wawra explains is less likely to contain these chemicals; therefore, the blocks, chunks, and pieces of raw wax that Parkites may have lying around in their garage from three, four, or five seasons ago are what Recycle Utah is looking for skiers to bring in. 

In addition to ski town governments and nonprofit recycling organizations, commercial wax manufacturing entities are jumping on the bandwagon as well. “Most of them want this stuff out of their environmental systems as bad as we do,” said Wawra. “So, the trend is becoming, if you bring them in a hunk of PFAS wax, they’re apt to gladly replace it with a sustainable wax.”

This type of wax was banned in advance of the 2022 Winter Olympics/Paralympics.

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