Ice skating on plastic

Ice skating on plastic – environmentally friendly or environmental pollution?

Ice skating without ice: it seems strange, but it is happening. We see people putting on skates to slide on flat plastic tiles in more places than ever before, without using any ice. What do you think: sustainable and innovative, or worse than it seems? We imagine your thinking: no ice has to be cooled, so it is more sustainable, right? This idea is also widely imprinted by the providers of plastic rinks. But what if we tell you that an ice rink made of plastic isn’t really that sustainable as it might seem? Let us explain.

Ice skating on plastic

Banning disposable plastics is a hot topic. After all, plastic waste is difficult to dispose and creates a lot of visible and invisible pollution. A plastic skating rink releases microplastics: indeed, the plastic shreds that pollute oceans. The German branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) recently published an article with their views on the use of plastic skating rinks. In fact, plastic ice rinks, presented as a sustainable solution, turn out to be not so environmentally friendly at all.

Microplastics cause environmental pollution

Plastic ice rinks are mostly made of polyethylene. When skating on such a rink, the sharp skate blades rub and cut into the plastic. This causes the plastic to release plastic particles. This causes visible plastic threads and shavings on the rink, as well as the release of microplastics.

Microplastics consist of virtually invisible and intangible plastic particles. Those particles dissipate into the air and end up in the soil or water. It may sound somewhat abstract, but it is everyday reality. Those bits of plastic from a skating rink can cause devastating damage, according to the WWF.

Climate saving or another way to pollute?

Providers of plastic ice rinks praise their own product. With slogans like “skate for the planet”, they present themselves as a climate solution and sustainable alternative to skating on real ice. With microplastics released, that claim is not appropriate, according to WWF. Moreover, the production and replacement of the skate tiles also puts pressure on the environment, for example through the use of petroleum. So, what to do now?

Ice rink with real ice a better alternative?

Creating real ice – with Ice-World as a specialist – also consumes energy. Ice-World ensures that its products are created and produced as energy-efficiently as possible: using green energy, paying attention to conservation and CO2 offsetting.

Think about it: what weighs more heavily on the environment; the use of energy or the effects of microplastics?

Plastic as a temporary substitute

Still, in some cases a skating rink made of plastic can be a worthy substitute. For example, for curling during the summer season. In this sport, you don’t wear sharp skates that cause wear and tear on the rink. Also, the temperature difference between ice and environment is greater in summer, which would require more energy to maintain a rink.

Still, curling on plastic remains a different experience than on real ice. The resistance of plastic is different from real ice, making sliding on plastic rinks a lot harder.

Rather ecological ice

The WWF also names an example of the “most ecological” ice rink. This is not a rink made of plastic, but a rink made of real ice.


The example the WWF names is located in Zurich, Switzerland. This rink not only uses only green energy, but also stores all the heat released in the production and cooling of the ice. Buildings and water are reheated with this “waste heat”. A process also used by Ice-World; waste heat is used where possible to provide heat for other activities, for example a pop-up catering tent.


Ice as the most sustainable choice

Ice-World consciously chooses sustainable lanes of real ice. With our patented system, energy consumption is about 40% lower, and the loss of energy to the environment is minimal. Also, every European ice rink is cooled using only green energy. Thanks to solar panels on the roof of our headquarters, we are self-sufficient and even feed green electricity back to the grid. Finally, every year we offset our CO2 emissions by buying carbon credits.

This is how we contribute to a world where people can responsibly enjoy skating on a rink with real ice. Read all about Ice-World’s environmentally conscious approach on our sustainability page.

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7 energy-saving tips

You may be wondering if an ice rink as an event is still profitable and socially responsible in this day and age? It’s good to know that Ice-World uses green energy to make ice. And did you know that our patented system uses up to 40% less energy than other systems?

More energy efficient and sustainable

As we face an energy crisis worldwide, perhaps you are questioning whether you should still operate an ice rink? Or whether it is profitable to organize an ice event? The good news is that you can do a lot yourself to make the ice rink more energy efficient and sustainable.

First of all, Ice-World uses green energy generated by wind turbines and our own 6.000m2 of solar panels. In addition, we compensate our CO2 emissions via buying carbon credits every year.


How much electricity does an ice rink really consume?

We did the math: an average ice rink of 450 m2 that we build in different cities or amusement parks uses as much in 30 days as 6 families use in a year. During that period the ice rink is used by an average of 15,000 skaters and attracts between 30,000 and 40,000 visitors. Besides providing a festive atmosphere and entertainment, this also has a positive effect on social cohesion and the local economy. Last but not least, it promotes physical exercise and outdoor sports. An ice rink and an ice event have many benefits!

Compare that to the 3.4 kWh of electricity and the 1.0 m3 of natural gas that a visitor to an indoor pool consumes. That means one pool guest consumes as much energy as 8 skaters.

If you put the following 7 energy-saving measures into practice you can save more energy, making skating even more sustainable:

1. Place insulation under the ice rink
This way the ice rink loses less cold at the bottom. Also make sure that the wind cannot blow under the rink platform. Seal the sides of the platform. This creates a layer of cold air that serves as an additional natural insulation of the ice rink.

2. Set the chiller to a higher temperature
At night, it is often colder, and the wind is not as strong. This allows you to set the chiller’s set point a little higher (sometimes even to switch it off). Just remember to return the temperature to the correct set point in the morning!

Always give the chiller enough space for ventilation. “Do not place construction fences or any other material right next to it.

3. Remove the water from the ice rink when it rains
This prevents rainwater from freezing and thickening the ice. Keep the ice surface between 7 and 8 centimeters. If the ice is thicker, the chiller will use more energy.

4. Don’t remove too much ice scraps
Ice scraps can also serve as insulation. Keep the edges of the ice rink clear so that no dam is created that prevents the water from running off the rink. Join our ice master training day and learn all about ice management!

5. Place the ice rink (partially) in a marquee
An ice rink protected from wind, sun, and rain uses far less energy. A marquee also guarantees an open ice rink in all weather conditions.

6. Insulate buffer tank and pipes
Insulating the pipes and buffer tank ensures that as little cold as possible is lost before the glycol enters the ice rink.

7. Use closed barriers
Especially for outdoor rinks, there is an advantage of using closed barriers over wooden barriers as they protect the ice surface better from the wind.


Let’s go for it

With current energy prices, these tips make more money than they cost. In addition, they might help you in discussions about the “high” energy consumption of an ice rink. Let’s go for it!

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How does the Ice-World system work?

Components of the ice rink system

Ice-World’s mobile ice rinks are built up out of foldable aluminium elements which are 1 metre wide and available in various lengths. They can easily be connected to one another using quick-fit connectors. The design has been patented worldwide. In this article we will take a closer look at all the different components that ensure that everyone has a great time on the ice!


Components of the ice rink system

The water in an Ice-World ice rink is cooled using an environmentally-friendly refrigerant called mono-propylene glycol (or just ‘glycol’). This refrigerant flows through an open system composed of the following parts:

  • A buffer tank
  • A cooling machine (also known as chiller)
  • A pump
  • Flow and return pipes (we call these begin headers)
  • Aluminium ice rink elements
  • An end pipe (we call this an end header).

An Ice-World ice rink consists of aluminium elements that are connected to one another by means of small flexible rubber hoses. You can build an ice rink of any desired size by connecting multiple elements together. Because the elements can be folded into compact packages, the ice rink can be transported easily and installed quickly.


The refrigerant path

The refrigerant is pumped through the chiller, where the glycol is cooled to -10°C, from the buffer tank. The glycol is then pumped from the chiller to the connected ice rink elements through the flow pipe system.


How we make ice

Because the refrigerant in the pipes is colder than the surrounding water, this system will absorb the warmth of the water. As a result, the temperature of the refrigerant will rise to -6°C during its passage through the ice rink. When the glycol is discharged from the ice rink it will flow into a buffer tank from which it will once again be pumped through the chiller in order to lower its temperature. The cycle then repeats until all the water is frozen.

Weather conditions and the ground temperature may make it necessary to continue cooling the ice rink, even after the ice has formed. In winter, when the outdoor temperature is lower, the cooling system will only use a quarter to a third of its maximum chilling capacity. Depending on the ambient temperature it is sometimes not necessary to operate the chiller at all because the aluminium system conducts cold so well.


The advantages of aluminium

Ice-World ice rink system consists of aluminium elements. This system has several advantages:


1. Energy-efficient

The use of aluminium means, first of all, considerable energy savings. Because aluminium is a good heat conductor, warmth from the water is absorbed more easily and the water is therefore chilled faster. As a result, the ice rink uses up to 40% less energy. This is better for the environment and makes a substantial difference in operating costs.


2. Rain or shine

Exposure to the elements (wind, rain, sun) and the ground’s natural heat will always cause an ice rink to heat up. Thanks to the aluminium system the effect of the ice-chilling system produces faster and better results, making the ice less susceptible to weather conditions. As a result, the ice floor will quickly dry after a shower and the rink can remain open at ambient temperatures up to as high as 30°C.


3. No leakage

A third advantage of aluminium is that there is hardly any risk of leakage. Aluminium does not attract dirt as quickly and is sturdier than plastic, making it less susceptible to wear and damage.


4. Fast installation

Thanks to the smart construction of the Ice-World ice rink elements and the excellent chilling capacity of aluminium, the rink is often ready to be skated on within 24 hours. After all, the more days that the ice rink is open, the more profit it will generate!


Building up an Ice-World ice rink step-by-step

Would you like to know more about how our ice rinks can be made ready to skate on within 24 hours? If so, please read the article: Step by step: building an ice rink in 24 hours.

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Recommendations For Covid-19 Proof Skate Rental Stations

On the ice rink, it is relatively easy to keep your distance. But what about skate rental stations or changing rooms? We have an example of a Covid-19 proof skate rental station available for you to download. With simple means you can make your rental station functional and safe at the same time.

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Road To A Succesful 2020 Ice Skating Event

In our 25 years of experience in organizing ice skating events, the year 2020 already became one of the most memorable. Covid-19 impacted the event industry in a way we would never expect. Are you organizing an ice skating event in 2020? In this article, we share our latest insights on Covid-19 measures, legal permits and project financing.

1. Obtaining a permit

At Ice-World we do not have a crystal ball to see how the post Covid-19 world will develop in the next few months nor do we know what kind of events will be permitted around the world next winter season.

However, we do know a few things about ice rinks, and we have looked into the research of Covid-19 transmission risks and the likelihood of developing the disease.

The good news is:

  • Covid-19 transmissions in the open air, where people are socially distancing are very unlikely. As widely reported, some research demonstrates this, and we expect more studies further proving this point in the next months. Ice rinks in temporary structures such as marquees or inside buildings should make sure the space is very well ventilated.
  • Seasonal ice rinks are mainly frequented by children, families and young adults, all low risk groups. Nearly all children and young adults suffer no or only mild symptoms of Covid-19.
  • Ice skating is a sport and therefore good for health and ice skating is one of the few sports practiced outdoors in winter. Physical activity helps build up resistance against infections and improves lung capacity. In most countries, individual sport activities, though limited, were allowed, even during lockdown.
  • Ice skating is a non-contact sport.
  • Seasonal ice rinks offer a fun activity and low entry barrier to a healthy lifestyle. The health benefits are larger than the risk of infection.

These factors will play a major role in local and national government’s assessment of whether to allow certain type of activities and events.

In addition to above factors we recommend a few new rules for ice rink events to reduce any risk of transmission even further.

We will keep monitoring the situation in our main markets very closely and update you regularly on the situation.

  • If you have any particular questions in relation to obtaining a permit or encounter challenges with the (local) authorities, please contact us for further support.

2. Financing your ice skating event

Most seasonal ice rinks projects earn money through various sources: selling entry tickets, hiring skates and skating aids, organising special events on and off the ice, selling food and drinks next to the ice rink, offering packages to sponsors and sometimes receiving support in forms of subsidies from local councils or foundations that promote sport or health activities.

In the post Covid-19 world it might be more challenging to refinance the investment in the ice rink project than it has been in recent years. The maximum capacity might need to be reduced, sponsors and councils might be less willing to support the ice rink project. This asks for a more creative and proactive approach to financing.

  • Presell entry tickets via online ticket platforms. This has a number of advantages: Cash flow in advance of the project, easier crowd managing by selling tickets for certain slots, opportunity to offer special deals (group, family, early-bird)
  • Crowdfund the event. A good crowdfunding campaign can create lots of publicity for your event and be the test for the feasibility. If you know that e.g. 5.000 people are supporting your event for €5. Reaching substantial local support will also help you to convince the sponsors and the council (see below).
  • Analyse the event you held in recent years. What worked financially, what did not? Did you ever reach the maximum capacity, or could you go for a smaller rink? Should you go for a bigger rink to ensure you can host the same number of skaters during shifts but shorten the event period by a week or two to save on operating costs? Do you need to increase the space for food and beverage? Diversify the attractions you offer? Attract groups such as schools or older skaters during the quiet weekday times?
  • Look for new sponsors. Depending on your country and local situation there are quite a few companies that profited from the lockdown and might want to give back to the community. Think for example of ecommerce, delivery companies, groceries, medical supply, sport equipment, garden centres. Other sectors such as retail need to do something to attract the customers back. Bigger retailers and shopping malls will invest in publicity.
  • Ask your council. Situation for public finances will not be easy, but councils might still want to support you e.g. in exchange for free skating for schools in the morning. City marketing might want to promote the city centre and its retail, especially now.
  • Look for private or public foundations or companies that promote health and wellbeing or sport activities. These could, for example, be health insurance companies, lotteries, and private foundations with the goal to promote a healthy lifestyle.

Above are a few options to finance your project in new ways. As Ice-World we understand that every project and every local situation is different.

Please contact us for customized advice as well as for details on our special Ice-World Covid-19 insurance that we’ve introduced to minimize your financial risks.

Disclaimer: Above rules are only recommendations by Ice-World. All ice rink operators must check and comply with the local rules and regulations that apply to their event.

  • The Covid-19 measures ask for a more creative and proactive approach to financing.

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Inspiration for Ice Rink Layouts & Time Schedules: 11 ideas

All of our ice rink projects are unique. Some include a lap around the historic town hall, others include fun slides or are situated inside a shopping mall. To help you organize an unforgettable and flawless ice rink experience, we share some inspiration for unique ice rink layouts and time schedules.

1. Recommendations for ice rink layouts

Download layout recommendations (.pdf, 7 pages) »

2. Recommendations for ice rink time schedules

View time schedule recommendations (.pdf, 3 pages) »

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Recommendations for a Covid-19 Proof Ice Skating Event

In our latest article, we wrote about the impact of COVID-19 on our business. Will there be (more) COVID-19 restrictions and how do we deal with these rules referring to our ice-experiences and winter events? How can we help our partners and clients to get their business up and running again and develop and organize Corona proof winter events in the future? What does it look like? How can we keep our people safe? To help you organize a COVID-19 proof ice skating event, we listed 10 recommendations for ice rink operators and ice rink users.

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Re-inventing ice-experiences

Despite the restrictions of the past few weeks due to the COVID-19 crisis it looks like we have managed to adjust to this new situation. We have stayed in touch with each other to support and inform about the latest developments on the crisis and our business. The event business has been hit hard because of all the restrictions and cancellations, but in this time of setback and social isolation we have found out that creativity and getting new insights flourish more than ever.  

How the ‘new normal’ affects our business

In the past few weeks we have worked very hard on innovative business concepts and new opportunities for constructive partnerships. Referring to our business it is crucial to think about questions like: what will the ‘new normal’ be and how does it affect our business? Will there be (more) COVID-19 restrictions and how do we deal with these rules referring to our ice-experiences and winter events? How can we help our partners and clients to get their business up and running again and develop and organize Corona proof winter events in the future? What does it look like? How can we keep our people safe?

Fewer restrictions for children

The good news is that in some European countries kids are allowed to go to school and their sports clubs again. Kids are an important target group for us and we know how it is good for them and their well-being, both mentally and physically, to go outside and have fun! And we will do our upmost best to keep on building our (temporary) ice-rinks where ever possible and help our clients and partners to create an unforgettable ice-experience.

Re-inventing our business

Re-inventing ourselves and our business is necessary in this unpredictable time, but it gives us energy and hope as well. We are convinced that there is future for our events. We trust that, especially this autumn and winter, we can bring people back together again to enjoy an ice-experience and all the fun and laughter skating, curling and sliding can bring.

Stay strong and stay in touch

A shout out for everybody in the event business. Stay strong and let’s join forces to develop and organize events for the future. It is possible. In the following months we will share our latest developments and experiences on building ice-rinks and organizing successful ice-experiences and winter events in a ‘new’ environment.

Keep an eye on our LinkedIn page and keep on following us for the latest news.

Let’s stay in touch to re-invent our business together.

Team Ice-World

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Six ways to generate income with an ice skating rink

Increase your turnover with a portable ice rink

Every year skating rinks become more popular, and increasingly they are being set up as a crowd-puller for all kinds of events. This isn’t hard to explain: from a study carried out in four different European countries by the NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences into the economic effects of skating rinks in city centres, it appears that having an ice skating rink at a winter event leads to extra money being made across the board.

The growth in popularity also ensures revenue growth for businesses in the surrounding area. The hospitality and catering industry, as well as shops, make a good profit during winter events. Moreover, it appears from the same study that 85% of businesses report seeing a positive impact on turnover after a temporary ice-skating rink is set up.

But what does a skating rink revenue model actually look like? This article describes the major sources of income.


1. Ticket sales

Obviously, more visitors equals more income. Thanks to the reliability of the Ice-World skating rink, the ice floor dries quickly after a rainstorm. On warmer days too, the rink can simply stay open so that visitors keep coming. And don’t forget: for every skater, there is a friend or family member looking on.

The price of a ticket is usually 5 to 10 EUR/USD.


2. Rental of skates and skating aids

Renting skates, and skating aids such as Bobby the Seal® and Tommy the Reindeer®, along with special equipment such as the IceByk® and curling sets, generates additional turnover.


3. Sponsoring

Several local businesses benefit from brand awareness in their vicinity, which is why they are interested in sponsoring ice-skating-related events. Large companies that have families as their target audience are also frequently prepared to contribute, but it is also the case that they may offer their own customers discounts or free tickets to the event as part of a savings campaign. These types of partners are a good way to increase turnover for both the sponsoring partner and the skating rink organiser.


4. Catering and hospitality industry

Whether it’s about visitors who have just come off of the ice or spectators, everyone needs to eat and drink. And for every event, this need also goes into overdrive. After all, no day of skating is ever complete without a tasty snack and a drink.


5. Special events

Special events are an excellent way to attract a wider audience. Among others, this can include: skating clinics, company outings, school outings, children’s parties, disco on ice, performances and tournaments. One way of giving these events extra appeal is to offer deals involving a free snack or drink, for example.


6. Merchandising

Increase your event’s revenue by offering fun gadgets like gloves, cuddly stuffed toys or warm scarves or hats. Your sponsors can also benefit from this type of activity, so be sure to involve them as well.

Would you like to know more about skating rink options for your event, or do you have plans to organise a new winter event? Don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss the options!

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Step by step: building an ice rink in 24 hours

Our pursuit of quality doesn’t automatically come at a cost to efficiency. And one important factor in efficiency is the time it takes to build an ice rink. After all, the faster the ice rink can be built, the more profit it will generate. Ice-World boasts the very cool ability to build a mobile

Building an ice rink

Our pursuit of quality doesn’t automatically come at a cost to efficiency. And one important factor in efficiency is the time it takes to build an ice rink. After all, the faster the ice rink can be built, the more profit it will generate.

Ice-World boasts the very cool ability to build a mobile ice rink within 24 hours. Compared to other mobile ice rinks, 24 hours is extremely short: most require about 3 to 5 days to build.

How do we achieve such a fast build time of 24 hours? We are happy to explain this to you using the step-by-step plan below.


Step 1: Find a good build surface

An Ice-World mobile ice rink can be built right on the surface where the rink is required. There’s just one proviso – the surface must be completely flat. A hard, flat surface, like the asphalt of a car park or the concrete of a tennis court, is ideal.

If the surface is not perfectly level, we will install the ice rink on a wooden floor construction to ensure that the surface is completely flat. There is actually an additional advantage to this wooden floor construction: it has an insulating effect, making the ice rink noticeably more energy-efficient.


Step 2: Make it watertight

To make the surface watertight, plastic foil is rolled out over the entire surface and taped down where necessary. Next, a watertight reservoir is created using aluminium corner profiles. Just twenty hours later, this seven-centimetre deep reservoir will contain an ice rink ready to be skated on right away.


Step 3: Unfold and connect the elements

The water in an artificial ice rink is cooled by means of reverse floor heating. A cooling agent flows through a network of pipes causing the surrounding water to be cooled. These pipes are pre-assembled at our factory into patented ice rink elements one metre wide. They are available in various lengths.

Because these elements are pre-assembled, pressure-tested at 4 bar and checked for possible leaks, all that needs to be done is unfold them, lay them in the right place and connect them up to create a single system.

After the rink has been installed the system is connected to the cooling plant, which consists of a cooling system, a pump and a buffer tank. These components ensure that the cooling agent is cooled and circulated.


Step 4: Install the boards

The perimeter – also called boarding – is installed all around the ice rink and the various parts are connected to one another. The boarding is usually also screwed onto the wooden floor. When the water is frozen in the next steps, these wooden or plastic boarding parts will freeze solidly into the ice.


Step 5: Fill the rink with water

Step five is to fill the rink with water. Before the ice rink is filled with water, the cooling system must be tested. The cooling system is filled with mono-propylene glycol: a biodegradable cooling agent. The glycol is pumped into the ice rink and the cooling machine is switched on.


Step 6: Freeze

Step 6 is to freeze the water. Depending on factors such as wind and temperature, the cooling system will be set to its highest position for the next 12 to 24 hours. The ice will slowly begin to form, starting around the aluminium pipes, until all the water is frozen.

There you have it: this is how an empty square can be transformed into a full-scale ice rink within 24 hours and the ice-skating fun can finally start!

Do you want to know more about the technical aspects of our mobile ice rinks? Read the article: How does the Ice-World system work?.

Interested in renting or buying a mobile ice rink, or do you want to organize an ice event? We have over 25 years of experience in the rental and sale of ice rinks for recreation and sport. Feel free to contact us! 

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