New Scarpa Boots Are Made From Beans

Post by blogger | January 22, 2009      

Tired of boots made from zillion-year-old vegetable matter that causes all sorts of problems? Solution just came in to WildSnow EU HQ — Scarpa will make boot plastic out of castor beans. The new plastic is said to have less carbon footprint than other plastics, but to me the best thing about “Rnew plastic” is the “renewable” source materal is not a food crop. I get pretty bummed when I hear we’re using food to make non-food “save the world” products such as ethanol (or plastic), with so much of the world hungry. That just seems so wrong. But these days you don’t hear much about world hunger, what with fighting global warming being the thing. Condensed press release follows:

Backcountry Skiing

Scarpa Tornado Eco uses modern plants for its plastic.

Bringing the first freeride and telemark ski boots to market made with bio-based renewable plastic, SCARPA will add three new ski boots to its line for Fall 2009 constructed with a material called Pebax Rnew®, which is made 90 percent from plant-based oil.

Rnew offers performance on par with the materials it currently uses throughout its ski boot line. For skiers, that means the performance they expect but in a form that’s more environmentally-sustainable. Scarpa will build the Tornado Eco and men’s and women’s T2 Eco with Rnew.

Tornado Eco – A redesign of the well known SCARPA boot that’s gained popularity with ski patrollers and performance-driven ski tourers throughout the world, Tornado Eco is a freeride boot for big skis and big lines with features that make it excel for all-day outings. Unique features of the Tornado Eco include the fact that it comes with two tongues, a rigid ski tongue and a hinged touring tongue, so that skiers can adjust the flex of the boot for what they plan to do. The boot also comes with the SCARPA/Vibram Ride sole, still the only rubber sole on the market that can be used interchangeably between alpine-touring and alpine bindings, and the only alpine-touring sole certified for release in both AT and alpine bindings. More, a new SCARPA Intuition Speed Pro liner with an alpine-style tongue, as well as reconfigured buckles for easier access. MSRP: $679.

For the drop knee crowd, also in the new plastic, T2 Eco and T2 Eco women’s. MSRP: $579.

The Rnew plastic used in SCARPA’s new Eco line of boots is Pebax, the same material SCARPA uses throughout most of its line. Pebax is known for its ability to retain its stiffness over a wide range of temperatures, and because it is so stiff compared to polyurethane (PU is the other primary material for building ski boots), less material can be used relative to PU, so it’s ideal for building lightweight. It also can be flexed repeatedly without breaking, so it’s the material of choice for plastic telemark boots.
Pebax Rnew is the same material, with the same performance characteristics, except it is made 90 percent from the oil of the castor plant rather than oil from petroleum. Because of that, it requires 29 percent less fossil fuel and puts out 32 percent fewer emissions in the process of taking Rnew from raw to useable material. SCARPA has tested Rnew on prototype boots for a year and a half to verify its performance. Lab and field testing shows Rnew performs on par with regular Pebax.

Shop for Scarpa alpine touring ski boots here.


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12 Responses to “New Scarpa Boots Are Made From Beans”

  1. Nick January 22nd, 2009 6:49 pm

    “It also can be flexed repeatedly without breaking, so it’s the material of choice for plastic telemark boots.” Except for NTN ones 😉

    Sorry, couldn’t resist!

  2. Magnus January 22nd, 2009 7:22 pm

    That is great news! About time someone deliver performance equipment that also are eco-friendly. I really think outdoor activities should be focused around sustainability, and sporting eco-friendly gear and human-powered verts is a good start!

  3. AJ January 23rd, 2009 1:53 am

    Dynafit ZZero’s are very green too 🙂

  4. Jay January 23rd, 2009 7:21 am

    Fantastic! Its good to hear these companies are making an effort to go green.
    I also heard these boots come with a winter’s supply of Beano for continued emission reduction 😉

  5. Tucker January 23rd, 2009 10:13 am

    Unfortunately, this would still likely impact the food supply, as farmers might stop growing food crops to grow castor beans for ski boots.

    When Congress mandated using ethanol in gasoline, corn went to ethanol plants instead of being used as food or feed. The price of corn went up, but the price of alternative grains (rice, wheat, etc), which could also be used for food, but are not used in ethanol, also went up, as people switched from more-expensive corn to less expensive food grains. This caused food riots around the world.

    What a lot of Greens seem to forget is that the economy is very good at putting materiels to their most effective use. Second-guessing the process can have unintended consequences, as the ethanol fiasco demonstrates admirably.

  6. Greydon Clark January 23rd, 2009 11:41 am

    Tucker, did the price of a can of Coke or Fritos increase because of the Ethanol mandate?

  7. Mark January 23rd, 2009 8:37 pm

    Interesting material choice. The Tornado is a great boot that I like a lot. If you like burly and don’t really need walk mode, give it a look (either the Pebax or RNew versions).

  8. Tucker January 27th, 2009 10:40 am

    Greydon: “Why Ethanol Production will Drive Food Prices Even Higher in 2008”

    The largest components of the price of Coke and Fritos are the marketing budgets, not the raw materials.

    Besides, most of the really poor people in the world can’t afford a Coke or a bag of chips.

    “Adding to the pain, U.S. futures for corn – a primary ingredient in soda sweeteners – are up 27% from a year ago, according to Reuters. This especially hurts Coca-Cola because 80% of its revenue comes from soda sales. Only 20% of the sales of rival PepsiCo Inc. (PEP) come from soda, Bloomberg reports.”

  9. JD January 29th, 2009 10:09 am

    Props to the folks who can save some oil. Good on ya SCARPA. Now if we can just get recycled packaging for those new good-karma-boots. Don’t forget to drive your Prius or Greisel car to the TH 🙂

  10. Lou January 29th, 2009 10:26 am

    Still, the best way to save oil is just drive less. I wonder how many miles of driving the plastic in one pair of ski boots is equivalent to? A couple? Ten? Twenty? So, a couple less trips to the grocery store and you don’t have to worry about what kind of plastic your boots are made of…

  11. JIm January 29th, 2009 10:29 pm

    As a Nebraska farmer I like to new products made from plant materials. The national media has made corn based ethanol the whipping boy for last summer’s 150 dollar crude and higher prices in the grocery stores. Don’t fall for it.
    Corn is trading about 75% of value of this time last year, if someone will pay me 27% more I have a Peterbilt of corn headed your way soon.

    good story, great site, lots of good info here

  12. Kevin February 20th, 2009 7:21 pm


    Should we just abandon, then, any efforts to create more sustainable products? What your argument fails to recognize or address are the huge subsidies paid by the American taxpayer to the petroleum industry in the form of tax breaks and military protection/intervention which obscure the true price of those products. Without these subsidies, your petroleum-based products would be considerably more expensive. Perhaps plastics made from castor bean oil are not the end solution — it would be a bit depressing if we never innovate past where we are — but why not embrace the effort, particularly if it comes without a hefty (skiing-performance) price?

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