The continuous ProPlay loop of giving foam a purpose
ProPlay shock pads distinguish themselves in many ways, but one aspect that truly makes ProPlay stand out is its respect for the environment and circularity. ProPlay is made from redundant foams. Once these foams have been accepted for the production of this shock pad, they will remain in the system and will continuously be used to produce high-quality foam products. ProPlay reduces the need for virgin materials and helps prevent the unnecessary growth of landfills.
Schmitz Foam Products places the environment firmly at the top of all its lists. By taking remnant foams and using them for products that have a meaningful purpose, Schmitz Foam Products prevents tonnes of foam going to waste annually. The plants in Roermond (the Netherlands) and Coldwater (USA) use the latest technologies and skilled employees to separate quality foams and prepare these foams for use in shock pads for different purposes. It has been doing so since the late 80s. The various quality monitoring and guiding principles for this process have been adequately documented. Internal processes to adhere to these principles are verified regularly, most importantly by auditors tasked with verifying the compliance with ISO 9001 and the CE principles.
Likewise, the Schmitz Foam Products protocol for accepting ProPlay sheets that are no longer used for their intended purpose is well-defined and documented. These ProPlay sheets can be handed back to Schmitz Foam Products to grant these sheets a purpose again in other applications. ‘It is a responsibility we take as the manufacturer but it is also something we can and like to do without even worrying too much about its condition,’ says Ron Moors, Plant Manager at Schmitz Foam Products. ProPlay sheets that have been handed in will be cleaned and either reused for other applications or recycled for the production of new high-quality foam products. A nice and sophisticated circular process where the manufacturer takes pride.
Reuse prevails over recycle
The Schmitz Foam Products’ recycling philosophy aims to reuse whatever possible before recycling is considered as an alternative. The company will go to great lengths to see whether ProPlay sheets that have been reclaimed can still serve a purpose elsewhere. Tests are conducted to establish the performance and quality of the sheets and to determine whether they could serve another purpose in a sports field or, perhaps, should be used in multi-game areas or for other drainage or shock absorbing purposes. Only once it is established that this is not the case will the ProPlay sheets be recycled.
‘Recycling the foam is really a last resort as, generally speaking, the foam is still in good condition. However, sports governing bodies are very strict regarding the constant technical performance they expect the material to deliver for a particular sport. We do not want to put that at risk. Nevertheless, they are still good enough for other purposes like drainage mats for roof gardens, horse riding arenas or as cow mats, as the drainage capacity of the material is still very good,’ Moors explains.
Proper thing to do
Sending the sheets back to Schmitz Foam Products will be the responsibility of the company that possesses the sheets. Schmitz Foam Products can provide pallets to enable smooth shipping. ‘Schmitz Foam Products accepts the sheets at no cost. We believe it is the right thing to do in a time where the environment is carefully considered and we more and more strive for a circular economy,’ Moors points out.
With the protocol in place since 2012, the option of returning ProPlay sheets to Schmitz Foam Products has, thus far, been used sparsely. ‘In light of the lasting performance of ProPlay sheets that can go up to 25 years, it is understandable that we have only been offered a few sheets for recycling. Most of the sheets we have produced up till now are still being used in artificial turf systems. Once they cross their 25th anniversary, I wouldn’t be surprised if they still perform according to the needs.’ As the recyclability of artificial turf is increasingly becoming an issue, Schmitz Foam Products have decided to actively pursue the ambition of giving foams a second opportunity by also accepting shock pads from other producers for recycling purposes. Provided the shock pad is made from cross-linked polyethylene it can be offered to Schmitz Foam Products to have it recycled for another purpose. ‘These shock pads are made of the same raw material that we use for the production of ProPlay, hence we can easily process them in our production,’ Moors adds.
Giving used ProPlay sheets a new lease of life is something that can be done multiple times. ‘The performance degradation is very limited. That is why we are comfortable claiming that even once ProPlay is no longer delivering what is needed for sports, it can still have a useful purpose in other applications.’ Much of the ability to extend the lifespan of the foam can be attributed to Schmitz Foam’s long-time experience and extensive knowledge of polyethylene foams.
The quality of ProPlay sheets is unrivaled and well-documented. Don’t be surprised when it outlives the artificial turf carpet that has been used for the field. Even when it is decided to replace a sheet or the shock absorbing layer of an entire field, ProPlay can still have a meaningful purpose. By shipping those sheets back to Schmitz Foam Products you will lay the foundation of another period of unrivaled shock absorbing and drainage qualities.
Check out the short video on the Schmitz Foam Products website to get the full story in less than 2 minutes via https://www.schmitzfoam.com/sustainability-and-recycling