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zai & CO2 – responsibility counts

We manufacture our products. We transport them to our customers. We ski and travel to the mountains. Is that environmentally responsible?

For us, it is crucial to understand the effects of our actions. Responsibility is required. Responsibility is based on understanding. Knowledge forms the basis for all decisions. zai analyses the impact of its economic operations with the help of its own ecological balance. The process to measure energy consumption in detail is complex and expensive. Many companies shy away from that – also in the ski manufacturing trade. Moreover, athletes wouldn’t really want to analyse the negative effect of their leisure activity. If we already limit ourselves with our journeys or make conscious choices in terms of buying and driving cars, we want to simply enjoy our spare time.

zai assumes responsibility – for itself and its customers. We commissioned Rémy Kuhn, an environmental technology and management student, to prepare an ecological assessment: his analysis shows that 50% of the energy consumption takes place during the transport of our products to customers. The other 50% are the result of the procurement and the processing of the materials. With the creation of long-lasting products, we redeem not only our quality promise but also reduce the raw material consumption significantly.

Actually, we needed two ecological assessments to achieve acceptable results: one is for the carbon footprint, the other one for the evaluation of environmental impact points. With the carbon footprint, individual CO2-equivalents for the used raw materials are added up. For the environmental impact points, one allocates point values to each raw material. These are all cumulated. “With the analysis of the raw materials, we relied on an evaluation standard of the carbon footprint (IPCC, 2014). The recorded CO2-value for the raw materials includes all incurred energy for the production, processing and transportation (from the origin to the manufacturer) “, explains Rémy.

Here is an example: zai manufactures currently three models: zai wood, zai stone and zai disruptor. With the latter ski model, one of the construction materials requires caoutchouc. Caoutchouc is natural rubber, which is sourced in developing countries and used by the majority of industries (tires, seals, damping elements). In the case of caoutchouc, we have investigated the production of the material. Land consumption affects the carbon footprint since rubber plantations could serve alternatively as forest reserves. Rubber plantations are intensively managed: local farmers use water and fertilisers. Fertiliser and water consumption are not strictly correlated with the output. “Trees give as much as the can – therefore, this is a sustainable raw material “, concludes Rémy. The energy requirements for the production is measurable, thanks to zai’s internal electricity meter. And the energy consumption for the transport of the individual raw materials is substantially included in the supplier calculations.

As expected, the pollution is the highest with synthetic materials. Here, oil dependency is dominant and carries much of the weight. It looks better in terms of wood. Wood is a vivid example, where we had to consider the additional energy consumption during the production. The wood for the ski core is won in the so-called veneer-peeling-process. The wood is milled from the tree trunk, just like in a pencil sharpener. Thus, very little wood waste is created and the use of resources is very high – even though this procedure also consumes energy.

zai pursues two goals: We want to grow and, at the same time, reduce and optimise the CO2-usage for each of our products. That does not have to be a contradiction. For this, we take the responsibility.

 

Sources:
IPCC, 2014. Climate change 2013: the physical science basis: Working Group I Contribution to the Fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, New York.: Cambridge University Press.

Additional literature
Master thesis Ökodesign für Sportgeräte, 2018

Details of the student:
Rémy Kuhn, Facility & Environment Supervisor