(CNN) — Already known for their UNESCO-protected pink-hued mountains and glacial valleys, the Italian Dolomites are likely to get even more attention now for going green.
One of its ski resorts is going entirely plastic-free.
Pejo 3000, a resort with 12 miles of ski runs and seven ski lifts in Val di Sole, has banned all single-use plastics starting this season. That includes bottles and bags, disposable knives and forks, and even packets of ketchup and mayonnaise.
Resort authorities in the Trentino region made the decision after an April study revealed that a nearby glacier contained microplastics, including polyester fibers and polythene, used to make plastic bags.
The glacier in question, Forni, is part of Stelvio National Park — Italy’s largest national park — and is said to be the largest valley glacier in Italy.
Scientists from the University of Milan and Milano Bicocca University found between 131 and 152 million particles of plastic on the glacier, and they think that the particles came from bits of tourists’ equipment and clothing blowing onto the glacier.
The Val di Sole tourist board called it “a devastating consequence [of] man’s presence,” In a statement released to CNN.
Plastics that make their way onto the mountains can remain there for decades, according to Christian Casarotto, a glaciologist at the MUSE Natural Sciences Museum in nearby Trento.
“They will then transform into environmental and health damage, and enter the food chain,” he said, in a video recorded for the press. “The ice and snow contain pretty much everything that’s in the atmosphere.”
Casarotto, who describes the glaciers as “containers” of everything that’s around, said that a limit on plastic products is “urgently needed” and should be “applied throughout the Alps.”
“We didn’t want to wait any longer,” said Luciano Rizzi, president of the local tourist board. “The local economy is based on tourism but this requires special attention to ensure that our natural resources are not depleted.”
The Dolomites “are our real treasure and we have to preserve and protect them for future generations.”
The plastic-free initiative — which will be accompanied by signs urging guests to limit the plastics they bring into the resort — is the first step in a longer program at Val di Sole.
The area also uses hydroelectric plants to provide energy for the valley and buildings are heated via a biomass plant, which burns wood scraps from the local timber industry.
Snow production is made with water recovery systems, and in future the resort will bring in eco-friendly hybrid snowcats.