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ARTIFICIAL TURF


A high percentage of used turf and associated materials still end up in landfill


The reality is that while fully-recyclable turf products and systems already exist, they are often more expensive to produce and are seen as being inferior quality


described the project: “There had clearly been a misunderstanding regarding the school’s new pitch as it was only four or five months old. We took on the contract at cost. It was a risk, but we wanted to demonstrate our process and show how crazy it is to throw away valuable materials. “We’re talking about sand from the


Jurassic period – one of the world’s finite resources and worth a lot of money. All in all, the process avoided a huge amount of material being dumped in landfill and saved the environment more than 2,000 haulage miles. What we demonstrated is that pitches can be replaced in a responsible, eco-friendly way with zero waste.”


WHAT CANWE DO ABOUT IT? The change needs to be instigated by those funding refurbishments and installations of artificial pitches. Local authorities, clubs and national governing bodies (NGBs) need to create frameworks for sustainable approaches to be implemented on every job they fund. Failure to act now will only compound


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the problem, as artificial turf grows in popularity and the number of pitches needing replacing will increase. What also needs to happen is that those who specify contracts will need to be educated on what can be done to lower the carbon footprint of artificial pitch construction and refurbishment projects. If sustainable materials and practices are incorporated at the specifications stage, then projects will become more environmentally friendly. Murfitts Industries’ Edwards agrees. “While research and development will undoubtedly have a major role to play in this, so will education. The reality is that while fully recyclable turf products and systems already exist, they are often more expensive to produce – and are seen by some as being inferior to what is already on the market. However, I believe that once the cost is brought down, there will be more demand for them. “In short, I believe the challenge is to


create better value recycling solutions for the fields already in the ground, at


the same time as developing more cost- effective, recyclable turf systems.” Meanwhile, on-site processing can


reduce the need to transport materials off site to remote processing plants – reducing the carbon footprint of recycling further. Manufacturers also need to make it easier for products to be recycled, by introducing compatible polymers, backing cloths and adhesives so that the processing of materials becomes more easily accomplished – and with a low energy requirement. For Wells, suppliers and contractors play a crucial role. “There are still companies out there which claim only new sand should be used in 3G pitches,” he says. “Something we‘ve proved not to always be the case. Sadly, there are also contractors willing to dispose of old carpet in ways that are simply unsustainable.” Owners and operators of pitches – and suppliers too – will probably need to pay more for recycling to happen. The question to address right now is can they afford not to? l


sportsmanagement.co.uk issue 2 2015 © Cybertrek 2015


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