The Italian ski resort is trying to become the first in Europe to ban plastics when it finds that the nearby glacier contained a significant amount of microplastics.
The use of plastic bottles, bags, cutlery, plates, straws, cups and spice bags was banned when the slopes at Pejo 3000, a small resort in Val di Sole, Trentino, were opened in early December, and further measures will be taken for the season.
The building, which attracted 137,000 skiers last winter, has three mountain huts that no longer store supplies of plastic items.
A view of the Forni glacier in the Stelvio National Park in Lombardy. Photo by Roberto Moiola / Getty Images / Robert Harding World Imagery
“This is the first part of the project to make the Pejo 3000 ski resort the most durable in the Alps,” said Fabio Sacco, General Director of Val di Sole.
This step was stimulated by a study by scientists from the University of Milan and the University of Milan-Bicocca in April, which uncovered the surface of Forni Glacier, one of the largest glacial valleys in the Italian Alps, containing 131-162m plastic particles including fiber and polyethylene.
Scientists believe that the particles on the Forni Glacier, part of the Stelvio National Park, come from visitors’ clothing and equipment and can be carried there by wind currents.
Pejo 3000 has 12 kilometers of slopes and seven ski lifts. Photo: Val di Sole Tourist Board
Christian Casarotto, a glaciologist at Museo Trento, said: “If plastic products reach the mountains, they will stay there for a long time, even decades, and then turn into environmental and health damage and enter the food chain.
‘Projects to limit the use of plastic products are urgently needed. They should apply in the Alps. “
After the first step, Pejo 3000 will strive to remove products that produce a significant amount of micro-plastics – in January it will remove plastic packaging from the one-day ski passes. Transitions for longer periods are laminated and rechargeable.
The resort, which has 12 kilometers of slopes and seven ski lifts, also plans to improve waste collection, recycling and energy use.
The wider Pejo valley uses renewable energy through three small hydro power plants, while houses, hotels and public buildings are heated by a wood chip heating system that is powered by the remnants of local forest operations.
“We think about the environment, the impact on future generations, but also on the competitiveness of our territory,” Sacco said.
“Sustainability is the asset we need to develop, and we need to be serious about what we do, not responding without taking decisive action.”