Bradford, Sebastian; Rupf, Reto; Stucki, Matthias

Mountain sports are affected by climate change in a way which few other sports are. Melting glaciers, less snowfall in many regions and rock fall due to thawing permafrost have a direct impact on athletes and businesses around mountain sports. On the other hand, mountain sports also contribute to climate change with greenhouse gas emissions arising from the production chain of sports equipment. We examined the environmental impact of climbing ropes, from the production chain to the usage and the disposal, produced and sold by the Mammut Sports Group. In addition to the global warming potential (GWP) using the IPCC 2013 method, other impact categories, such as eutrophication or acidification, were assessed using the environmental footprint method. Furthermore, a socio-economic research methodology was used with an online survey to obtain data on the rope use and its end-of-life phase, as well as to evaluate the potential of a rope material recycling project by Mammut. The recycled polyamide can be reused for non-personal protective equipment products, such as T-shirts. The results show that the production of the base material polyamide 6 has at 50% the highest impact on the total GWP of 46.6 kg CO2-eq. per climbing rope with 70m length and a weight of 3.54 kg. The raw material production dominates also most other environmental impact categories. Considering the rest of the production chain, the rope processing contributes 18% to the GWP. The emissions are caused by energy intensive processes such as braiding and twining, powered mainly by coal based electricity. A switch to photovoltaic electricity could reduce the GWP of this supply chain process by 75%. The survey indicated a high willingness of climbers to return their ropes for the purpose of recycling. If all old ropes stored at home or being used for non-climbing purposes in Switzerland were to be recycled, 1170 t CO2-eq. could be saved by substituting primary material and avoiding waste incineratio