How to reuse or recycle artificial turf
What is the best way to deal with the synthetic turf and the fillers once they are removed from a sports field or any other facility?
Just think that in a few years, an average of 20 million kg of artificial turf will be removed annually.
There are currently four viable options available for managing these materials after their life cycle is complete.
Dumping of debris.
This is the simplest and most common way to handle the synthetic turf waste stream.
Although it is the easiest thing to do, it is not always the most cost effective or advisable.
What the material will do is generate volume and "mistreat" the landfill, it will be a lost potential resource.
Conversion of waste into energy.
This is the approach that recovered synthetic turf takes when incinerated at a high temperature, extracting the EAP (energy trapped in the product).
This energy is used to heat a boiler and generate electricity.
A certain amount of residential carpet is managed in this way through American agencies such as CARE.
In a waste-to-energy process, the volume of material is typically reduced by 95%.
Meanwhile, large, powerful wastewater treatment plants extract hazardous by-products and cannot guarantee that emissions meet strict air quality standards.
Critics argue that the conversion of waste to energy destroys valuable resources and releases excessive CO2.
This is a good solution, to convert a piece of artificial grass that is already considered useless for an existing use and find an alternative use of this pavement.
While this would be a good short-term solution, the reality is different.
Once the artificial turf on a sports field is broken down into smaller pieces, the possibilities for reuse are considerably reduced.
The other harsh reality is that the market for reused products will soon be flooded with these pieces (some 1,000 synthetic turf fields will be eliminated by 2026).
This is more than 8 million square meters of old artificial turf.
This is the ultimate solution, turning seemingly useless waste into useful plastic products.
These goods can serve to be recycled, creating a closed loop, allowing resources to be reused but not exploited and perpetually delaying their journey to the landfill.
This is possibly the most difficult solution as it requires specialized machinery to remove and separate the field.
Some advanced chemistry is also required to make polyethylene, polypropylene, polyurethane, polyester and/or nylon compatible.
The good news is that there is already significant progress in this direction within the industry and there are companies today that offer everything needed to make this a reality.
You can contact the ALLGrass technical team for information about your project of artificial grass recycling.