TPE infill from salvaged ocean plastics

The new Act Global synthetic turf for Ranney School and Princeton Soccer Academy in Tinton Falls (NJ), the US, has TPE infill that is made from salvaged ocean plastic. Ranney School is an independent, co-ed, secular college preparatory school serving children from age 3 to grade 12 offering an all-inclusive football programme.

Derived from up to 40,000 pounds of ocean plastic, the patent-pending infill can remove 1.8 million bottles from the ocean per field.

“Ocean plastic is used to create the Thermo Plastic Elastomer (TPE) infill that is spread on top of the turf, replacing the rubber crumb found in traditional turf,” says Paul Adams, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at installing company Elite Turf. “To date, we’ve installed two fields with the Parley TPE ocean plastic infill, removing 80,000 pounds of plastic, or 3.6 million plastic bottles from the ocean.”

Ranney School partnered with Princeton Soccer Academy (PSA) to re-turf 7500 sqm of its existing football, lacrosse, and field hockey surfaces.

“Our athletes, their families, field owners, and the environment deserve better. The Elite Turf Power system [Xtreme Turf Woven] is a win for all parties, reducing exposure to toxic chemicals, helping to prevent injuries, cutting costs through its recyclability, and removing dangerous plastic from our oceans,” he adds.

“The multi-layered turf system combines the recycled plastic, woven turf with the ProPlay pad Foundation, and the plastic infill to help absorb shock and reduce injury,” he says. “In combination, the pad and infill create a softer surface without creating too much vertical deformation which leads to quicker athlete fatigue. The plastic infill, replacing the rubber crumb infill found in other turfs, offers a drastically lower surface temperature than the rubber, keeping the field cooler in extreme heat for athletes.”

Xtreme Turf Woven is completely recyclable at the end of its life due to a trio of synthetic fibers woven into an interlocked backing system, eliminating the need for a polyurethane backing. Water passes easily through the woven backing allowing soil to dry quicker, while fixation and dimensional stability keep the fibers standing vertically to resist matting.

The woven system is not only eco-friendly, but it offers performance benefits for the game of football such as consistent ball roll, steady footing, and reduced glare and heat.

“We are thrilled for Ranney School to be the first facility in the states to install our woven system,” said John Baize Act Global found and CEO. “We are committed to providing safe and environmentally conscious surfaces to both our partners and to communities around the world.”

According to the company statement, both the infill and the turf “are 100% recyclable” though it is unclear whether this means that after recycling, the infill and turf can be used for producing new infill and turf or that the reclaimed materials are downgraded for use in other items. As the polymer structure of polypropylene and polyethylene changes once the material is heated again at the start of the production process, pellets recycled synthetic turf and polymeric infill often form the raw material for lower grade items like plastic garden furniture or goal posts.

Elite Turf has set a target goal of installing 5o fields with TPE infill made from salvaged ocean plastics. This would equate to removing two million pounds of plastic next year.

Act Global and its its partner Elite Turf are not the only companies exploring new ways to make synthetic turf systems more sustainable. Various companies are currently working on new raw materials that will deliver the same performance and durability but can be re-used again as a raw material for synthetic turf products. It is expected that these products will enter the market by the end of 2020 latest.

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