Moving house on the summer of 2011 I realised that I hadn’t used my climbing gear for more years than I cared to remember. Deciding that I couldn’t go on storing it in the loft forever I looked around for somewhere to recycle it. I soon discovered that there was nowhere in the UK to recycle the gear, but that there was some recycling of climbing ropes in France and the US. Green Peak Gear has come about as a result of wanting to fill this gap. After some initial research to confirm that the materials climbing gear is made from can be recycled I approached the BMC with the idea to ask for their support. Fortunately they too wanted to do something about the issue, and their ongoing support has made a tremendous difference to the project. An important part of the idea behind Green Peak Gear is that any profits that are made will go to the BMC’s Access and Conservation Trust – we want to give something back to the outdoor community in exchange for the gear donated to us. Having gained the BMC’s support I looked for some volunteers to help start the project. There was a great response (you can see who has been working on the project on on the people page). In addition to the project volunteers we were approached by several other people and organisations with an interest, who we have received great encouragement from.
The project kicked off at the start of June 2012, with the intention being to run a pilot project to show that a viable, self supporting, long-term operation can be set up. The work we are doing falls under a number of headings:
- Gear collection and storage
- Deconstruction and recycling
- New product manufacture and sales
- Distribution for alternative use
- Marketing and web presence
- Administration and finance
A key part of what we do is collection of the retired gear. Jointly with the BMC we have approached a number of climbing walls in North West England asking them to have a collection bin where people can place their gear. We have had a great response – you can find participating walls here. Some of the items we collect - such as helmets and harnesses – need to be deconstructed before being reused or recycled. It quickly became apparent that the cash available from simply recycling the gear would not be sufficient to fund an ongoing operation, and from an early point we decided that making new products we can sell from the gear to give it a new life would be essential to our success. We also want to provide gear to community organisations that can give the gear an alternative use.
I’ve told the story of how Green Peak Gear has got to where we are from a personal point of view – I hope its clear that the journey we are taking is due to the energy, commitment, enthusiasm and support of a lot of people: the volunteers who have given their time and ideas, the BMC staff who have helped us in many ways, the climbing walls that have offered to collect gear, and people working in the outdoor industry who have offered their support.
Green Peak Gear will only be a success if people are happy to donate their old gear and we can make products that people want to buy from the gear we receive: thank you for your interest and support.