Pejo 3000, a ski resort in Northern Italy, is one of the first ski areas in the world to go plastic-free.
The resort, which is located right within the Stelvio National Park, in Trentino’s Val di Sole, announced they’re banning disposable cutlery, glasses, straws, bottles and other single-use plastic items—including packets of ketchup and mayonnaise—from their mountain huts in an attempt to make them more environmentally sustainable.
The decision was motivated by the publication of a study by scientists at Milan-Bicocca University and University of Milan which revealed that Forni, a glacier near Pejo 3000, contained microplastics, including polyester fibers and polythene.
Scientists found that the surface of the glacier contained 131 to 162 million plastic particles, a concentration similar to the one found in European sea waters. The most likely hypothesis is that the plastic particles derived from tourists’ ski equipment and have been blown on the glacier by wind currents.
“If plastics reach high altitudes they remain unchanged for a long time, even decades, and then they return in the form of environmental and health damage, entering our food chain,” said Christian Casarotto, a glaciologist at the MUSE, a science museum in Trento.
“Projects that aim to limit the use of plastic products are urgently needed and they should be applied throughout the Alps,” he added.
The plastic ban is just a small part of the strategy to make Pejo 3000 more eco-friendly.
In the future, the Val di Sole’s ski resort, which welcomed 137,000 visitors last winter, will replace its diesel snowcats with hybrid models and lay out further plans to improve waste collection, recycling and energy use. Starting from January, one-day ski passes will also lose their plastic cover.
As declared by Fabio Sacco, the general director of the Val di Sole tourist board, the final goal is to make the ski area of Pejo 3000 “one of the most sustainable in the Alps.”
"The local economy is based on tourism but this requires special attention to ensure that our natural resources are not depleted. [The mountains] are our real treasure and we have to preserve and protect them for future generations," echoed Luciano Rizzi, president of the local tourism board.