SEE: Old French skis turned into colourful tables and benches

A cooperative is selling the recycled pieces to mountain businesses or members of the public

Your old skis can be recycled into coffee tables or benches
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Old skis are being recycled into modern pieces of furniture by a cooperative dismayed by the amount of snow sports equipment thrown away.

Government figures estimate that 500,000 individual skis are taken to tips in France every year. Most are made of composite materials that will never biodegrade, and they end up in landfill or incinerators.

“Around 75% of the skis come from professionals – hire shops mainly, which only keep a pair of skis for three or four years before throwing them away,” said Emilie Vuillequez, who runs the SkiTec cooperative.

“The company’s founders are all from Chambéry in Savoie. When they became aware of the problem, they decided to do something about it by designing a number of pieces of furniture.”

High-end furniture

They began selling them in 2021 but, despite a promising start, the firm ran into difficulties. After a period under administration, it reformed as the cooperative it is today.

It has around 40 members and four full-time staff. “We took the decision to focus on the more expensive end of the furniture market, and it seems to have paid off,” said Ms Vuillequez.

“Most of our customers are businesses in the mountains, wanting furniture to reflect the area’s love of skiing. However, we do also sell directly to the public.” Examples of products include clothes hooks, coffee tables, chairs and stools, and all pieces are bespoke.

“We do not have a stock, so when people go to our website, it is for an estimate for an individual piece of furniture,” added Ms Vuillequez.

“We get in touch with them and find out what they like and what sort of skis they want used – they are highly coloured and often have graphic designs on them, so that is important.”

The cooperative delivers to customers in Savoie or offers a self-collection from its workshop.

Prices start at €130 for clothes hooks, through to €1,500 for a bench.

Read also: French mountain resorts now offer much more than just skiing

Recycling skis

Old skis are provided free thanks to a system of eco-taxes on producers who, since 2022, have a legal obligation to arrange ‘end of life’ solutions for their products.

As well as furniture, SkiTec makes bicycle sheds, bus shelters, balcony and interior screens, and supports for solar panels from old skis.

It is not the only organisation that is recycling winter – or other –sports equipment. Another mountain-based firm is transforming snowboards into skateboards.

Read also: Empty oyster shells recycled into innovative products in France

In 2006, a local government syndicate called Tri-Vallées was set up in Savoie and Isère to stop skis ending up in landfills.

It developed a system where they were reduced to powder, which could be burnt as fuel in cement factories.

Also, the French tennis federation collects old balls to resurface roads and tennis courts.

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