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.