Developed in Switzerland
Known as StopGlissBio™ in Europe, the non-slip traction chips were developed and perfected in the town of La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.
Bearing a new name, EcoIceGrip is now being produced in
Saint-Magloire, Quebec and is available in truckloads, bulk bags and retail formats.
The penguin symbolizes community, adaptability and renewal. Ultimately, our goals are the same.
Harmony Through Innovation
Joseph Mucaria was the director of public works for the historic town of La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, and he had a problem. La Chaux-de-Fonds is a picturesque town in the Jura Mountains at the foot of the Swiss Alps. It is the watch-making capital of Switzerland and, by extension, the world (at least for analog time pieces). The citizens of Chaux-de-Fonds are proud of their city and very protective of the pristine mountain environment.
Winter in La Chaux-de-Fonds is beautiful but can be treacherous at times for pedestrians and cars alike due to the slippery, icy conditions on the town’s many hills and slopes.
Mucaria was responsible for ensuring safe travel in winter conditions. As in North America, road salt was the default “go-to” for this purpose. However, there was a growing awareness of the harmfulness of road salt. Damage to historic buildings and municipal infrastructure and contamination of the surrounding environment, especially fresh water, was becoming unacceptable. In addition, road salt was deemed to be a toxic substance in Switzerland and had to be handled accordingly. Regulatory compliance costs for storage, application and disposal were new headaches to address. Ensuring an ecologically and economically sound alternative, without compromising citizen safety, meant a new approach was needed.
Mucaria determined that the issue was traction and that the solution was not to eliminate snow and ice to get to the original surface. Putting a natural, non-toxic material on top of the ice and snow to create a surface that provided the necessary traction for safe travel was the answer. Such was the seed of the idea and the beginning of StopGlissBio™ or as we know it here in North America, EcoIceGrip™.
Through several years of development, a product was eventually defined: a light-weight, dimensionally select softwood chip impregnated with a pH-neutral brine coating. The coating creates a slight melt where the chip is in contact with hard-packed snow or ice. The melt refreezes and firmly embeds the chip in place, providing stable, comfortable traction. If the snow or ice thaws naturally, when it refreezes, most of the buoyant chips will remain on the surface, and minimal, if any, replenishment is required.
Recognizing the growing pressure in Canada to reduce road salt and other de-icing alternatives, EMC3 Technologies Inc. founder André Prévost acquired the patent license to develop the North American market for StopGlissBio (EcoIceGrip). Now retired, Prévost has handed off the operations to EMC3 owners Jim MacKenzie and Greg Maloney, who combine experience in snow-clearing and property care with expertise in commercialization of sustainable biomaterials.
Over the last three years, EcoIceGrip has been continually tested and improved upon. Field trials with environmentally minded municipalities such as the town of Rosemère, Quebec, have proven successful and are expanding. Individuals like popular home-improvement radio show host Jon Eakes have tried and endorsed the product.
Our production capacity has also grown: in December 2020, the first commercial-scale facility was commissioned in Quebec.
In keeping with the environmental promise of this clean-tech product, the wood chips are obtained from select sawmill residuals of FSC-certified forests and remnant product can be gathered up and used as mulch or in compost in the spring. This circular aspect of the material is critically important.
We are excited about our recent consumer product launched in a 20-L bag format and featuring our new brand identity. Our penguin logo is perfect for our brand promise of being community minded and working in harmony with nature. Our hope is to see the EcoIceGrip penguin at homes, parks and towns across North America!
(We admit that the plastic bag packaging is not ideal, but for now, it serves the purpose of containing and protecting a moist product. It is comprised of 10% recycled plastics and is fully recyclable. We are working on some novel reduced-packaging concepts, so stay tuned!).
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions!