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Company manufactures skis from algae oil » Yale Climate Connections

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On the slopes this winter, some people are clipping into skis made with an unusual ingredient: algae oil.

Sterbenz: “Winter sports becoming one of the first use cases of these modern bio-based oil applications was really appealing to me.”

Matt Sterbenz is a former professional skier and the founder of WNDR Alpine, which makes skis, snowboards, and apparel using plastics derived from microalgae. The materials are developed by WNDR Alpine’s parent company, a biotech firm called Checkerspot.

Plastics are typically made from fossil fuels. The process produces carbon pollution at all stages — from extracting and transporting fossil fuels to the refining and manufacturing processes.

Using algae eliminates the need for fossil fuels as a raw ingredient. And Checkerspot uses renewable energy at its manufacturing facility.

So Sterbenz says they’re making skis that are better for the climate — without compromising the skis’ performance.

Sterbenz: “Performance is not lost. If anything, it’s enhanced. … We’re able to achieve a nice, damp, stable, and supple feel.”

It’s one example of how companies can leave fossil fuels behind — and create products that are better for the Earth.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media



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