Plans for a new synthetic turf recycling plant in Schuylkill County in the US haven’t been approved yet. To make matters worse, turf recycler Re-Match is now being hit with environmental violations by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
The new plant was announced with much fanfare by Re-Match last year as part of an ambitious plan to have 24 plants around the world to process end-of-life synthetic turf by 2030.
This even encouraged the state of Pennsylvania to issues loans and grants totalling USD 1.85 million, while the company itself is expected to invest USD 15 million in the new plant as well as creating at least 40 jobs.
One year later, things are still quiet, while the DEP has identified infractions at three separate sites where Re-Match was storing the end-of-life synthetic turf it had been accumulating over the past few years.
According to local newspaper Bucks County Courier Times, the DEP claims that Re-Match violated laws against dumping solid waste without the proper permit. In 2021, a property owner was issued a notice. According to the DEP, it was not allowed to keep the rolls outside on the property. The owner was directed to develop a plan to correct the violations. However, last year, the DEP found that turf was still piled around the site.
The DEP hasn’t imposed any fines yet. However, in late 2021, the courts awarded USD 3,500 in back rent to a property owner who claimed Re-Match hadn’t paid rent for storing end-of-life turf on its property. Another farmer recently sued the company for at least USD 288,000. According to Re-Match, they don’t have a signed contract with the farmer.
7,000 tons of material that had been stored on various sites in Lebanon County were moved to inside the new Re-Match plant last year.
Re-Match has now applied for a waste management permit to be allowed to accept and process end-of-life turf. Approval for this permit is still pending. Furthermore, the future recycler is also waiting for local officials to sign off on its building use plans. Until this happens, it is impossible to transport more turf to the site.
Re-Match CEO and co-founder Nikolaj Magne Larsen has explained the delays by pointing out its focus to get the plant in the Netherlands up and running. Operations in Tiel commenced earlier this year and the plant will officially be opened in May this year.