• Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

Merger positions re-bounce® as shock pad for the future

For many years, re-bounce® shock pads were the secret ingredient that remained largely hidden underneath some of the best performing artificial turf sports surfaces. With international sports governing bodies and authorities increasingly valuing the wide-ranging role of the shock pad, and following the merger with Carpenter from the U.S., re-bounce® (re-)surfaces.

Ever since Recticel Engineered Foams brought re-bounce® to the market, this shock pad has helped deliver hundreds of high-end artificial turf sports surfaces in countries all over the world and in a range of climate conditions. These days, governing bodies like World Rugby, FIFA and the International Hockey Federation admit that artificial turf surfaces for their sports cannot do without a good quality shock pad. They recognise the contribution to a safe, comfortable and durable surface. Likewise, environmental authorities are advocating the use of shock pads to reduce the need for water as well as to reduce or prevent microplastic pollution by such a surface.

Re-bounce® shock pads are one of the oldest prefabricated shock pads available to the market. Its longtime and documented experience made it instrumental in the development of EN15330-4, a European Standard that describes the performance criteria for shock pads.

Last year, Recticel Engineered Foams merged with Carpenter, one of the world’s largest vertically integrated manufacturer of polyurethane foams. “The merger enabled us to collaborate with an experienced team, specialised in shock pads, that was ready to launch a set of innovations. This was a pleasant surprise, as we have seen that these innovations work and will remain relevant in the long term,” says Kurt Derieuw, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Comfort at Carpenter. “The shock pad activity is a new challenge for us and is a very interesting segment to be involved in. This activity also fits very well in the sustainability strategy of our group.”

Vital to the adoption of artificial turf for sports

To understand Derieuw’s excitement, one will have to understand the history and role of (prefabricated) shock pads.

Shock pads were introduced as a vital component to install safer and more sustainable alternatives for the long-pile artificial turf surfaces that were once the norm for sports like football, rugby and American Football. The introduction of shock pads meant that it was no longer necessary to use approximately 120,000 kg polymeric infill to deliver shock absorbing properties. Shock pads deliver consistency and a predictable performance that can be guaranteed for a much longer period. Their introduction also opened the door to more sustainable products like cork, olive pits, and, more recently, wood chips to be used as infill. International rugby governing body World Rugby has gone as far as stating that “Without a shock pad, it would be impossible for an artificial turf surface to become compliant for rugby.” World Rugby made this claim in reference to the technical performance of shock pads. However, it goes without saying that, in a time where sustainability has become equally important, the reference also applies to the use of organic infills.

Sustainable product

re-bounce® shock pads are bonded foam shock pads that are made with production residues. Lately, Carpenter has also introduced end-of-life shock pads as a raw material. “This production process avoids waste without compromising on performance or quality. It is a smart working method that perfectly fits in to our sustainability strategy and that will pay off in the years to come,” Derieuw points out. re-bounce® shock pads have a lifespan that is double or even triple that of the carpet. Together with the data that was collected when re-bounce® was developed before it was released to the market, there is now real-time evidence to prove this extensive lifespan. According to Nicholas McMillan, Carpenter’s International Sales Engineer, Sport and Flooring, the merger has thrust re-bounce® into a new era. “Becoming Carpenter gave us a stable platform to launch new possibilities and provide great service to our customers. We are focussed and committed to deliver a value proposition with shock pads from which our partners and stakeholders can benefit.” The introduction of end-of-life shock pads as a raw material is just one example.

re-bounce® products are tailored to the width of the pitch. “This facilitates installation, as rolls can be placed on one side of the pitch to cover the full width of the pitch in one go.” In addition to ensuring a quick and easy installation, this also avoids the contractor being left with a lot of waste once finished. “We can also offer different shock pads in terms of foam density and thickness, to offer the right performance where needed.”

Enabling sustainable surfaces

Derieuw already looks into the future. “Our innovations not only emphasise the sport technical or sustainability performance of our pad but also the possibility to use the field for different purposes,” he says while pointing to the multi-purpose role artificial turf surfaces are increasingly taking on, “like combining it with special constructions for water buffering or energy collecting. Our climate has changed, hot summers and extreme downpours are becoming normal. re-bounce® shock pads can play a vital part in mitigating the effect of these extreme conditions and in keeping sports fields playable. This is thanks to its open cell design, allowing the shock pad to absorb and release water. This enables the shock pad to cool down the turf system and (urban) environment, to collect and manage water resources and to transfer heat, thanks to the thermal conductivity of water.” The International Hockey Federation (FIH) sees a vital role for shock pads to reduce the reliance on water for the sports. “During the 2012 Olympics in London, each artificial turf hockey field had to be watered twice for each game in order to perform. Each watering required 18,000 litres of potable water. To align ourselves with the UN Millennium goals, FIH has set a target of zero water. To do so, a good quality shock pad is important as a substitute for the sport technical characteristics previously delivered by the water,” an FIH official recently acknowledged at an industry event for the international artificial turf industry.

Added value to LCA-calculation

Artificial turf can contribute to a sustainable society and future in many ways. Together with European authorities the artificial turf industry has developed a tool that allows buyers and investors to calculate these contributions. This Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCR) tool yield a positive result for any artificial turf system that uses a shock pad. 

Yet re-bounce® has an extra advantage. “We have been using trim from our foam production as raw material to produce high-quality products for many years,” Nele Bosman, the International Product Manager Comfort at Carpenter points out. “By using our post-industrial trimmings, and, by extension, end-of-life shock pads as raw material, we contribute significantly to waste reduction and avoid landfill or incineration. By using these raw materials, we also reduce the use of virgin fossil fuel based raw materials.” According to McMillan, the introduction of end-of-life products into the production process neither impacts the quality nor performance of the shock pad. Resilience is an inherent quality of our open cell re-bounce® foam. It minimizes compaction and thus thickness and performance loss over time. During the research for our circular recycling model, we collected a significant number of old shock pad fields and samples. The main conclusion was that our shock pads, after (very) long-term use, still perform within the technical datasheet tolerances of a new re-bounce® shock pad.”

Letting everybody win

While Carpenter operates in a wide range of markets, the role re-bounce® shock pads play in artificial turf sports surfaces is not underestimated. “As one of the largest polyurethane manufacturers, sustainability is a main priority for Carpenter. To reduce our carbon footprint and meet the targets of the Paris Agreement, we focus on every step of the circular model and not only on the raw material part. re-bounce® is an important part of that. We take into account the recyclability of products at the end of their lifetime from the first step of the development process,” Bosman points out. Derieuw adds: “Sport is vital in shaping societies; it improves physical health and mental well-being as well as social cohesion and economic growth. It is essential for creating a healthy, happy, and connected society,” one that, when using a re-bounce® shock pad, should not have to cost an arm and a leg, McMillan believes. “Our circular shock pads will enable pitch owners to realise more sustainable constructions and achieve a significant carbon footprint reduction. Pitch owners will be able to apply for subsidies for these more sustainable pitch constructions, if applicable.” Even contractors installing the new surface, stand a chance to benefit. “Most sport contractors will gain an advantage because it usually costs less to integrate end-of-life shock pads in our recycling model than to dispose of them. When the shock pad eventually becomes waste at its end of life, it can be fully recycled for the very same purpose: as shock pad for artificial turf. The end-of-life shock pad is cleaned, dried and shredded to become reusable raw material in a circular recycling process. It will improve our processes, strengthen our collective proposition, and contribute to a future-proof artificial turf industry.”

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