• Wed. May 22nd, 2024

Wembley Stadium first to return reclaimed hybrid turf

Where the recycling of full-synthetic turf pitches into either new turf or other products has become the norm, Wembley Stadium is the first to have the reclaimed yarn from its hybrid surface used to produce another product.

Wembley Stadium chose to convert its reclaimed synthetic turf yarn into a bench.

The process to reclaim the yarns was developed by the stadium’s own grounds crew.

Grounds manager Karl Standley explains on the Wembley Stadium website: “Extracting the plastic from a hybrid pitch is notoriously difficult, due to its compound and structure. When we first mooted the idea of recycling it, we were told it couldn’t be done. However, we were determined to find a sustainable answer to the problem. It’s been a long journey, testing and re-testing, but we have finally come up with a solution we are happy with.”

The team had already recycled large elements of the pitch (rootzone and sand) back into grassroots pitches and wanted to take a lead in the research and development of a 100% sustainable process for the type of hybrid pitches installed at Wembley Stadium.

Together with recycling specialists Circular 11, they found a suitable solution.

“The full circle pitch has been one of the most technically demanding and exciting projects that we’ve worked on to date, and we’re really proud to be a part of this pioneering project. It demonstrates that there are huge opportunities to increase plastic recycling when companies have unrelentingly high standards about what happens to the materials they use, as Wembley does, and shows the potential for composite technology to transform previously unrecyclable plastic into a resource,” Connor Winter from Circular 11 said.

A range of products

Depending on the hybrid field that has been chosen, a full-size hybrid football surface can contain 47,500 km of synthetic yarn. The stadium team estimate that around 50 benches could be created from one pitch, with scope to develop the recycled plastic into other uses within grassroots football.

While the reuse of reclaimed synthetic turf yarn from a hybrid surface is unique, elsewhere in Europe, reclaimed end-of-life synthetic turf fields have been converted into a range of products.

Greenmatter in the Netherlands has been doing this in tandem with GBN-AGR, a Dutch synthetic turf recycling company that was established by the industry. Products Greenmatter produces from the recycled synthetic turf include shore protection, picnic benches, flower boxes and (polymeric) infill anti-migration measures.

High-end products

During the recent annual conference of the ESTC, the industry body that represents the synthetic turf industry in the EMEA-region, Arnoud Fiolet, managing partner of the RSI Sports Group, revealed that his Turf Panel shock pad will soon be produced from end-of-life turf. “One reclaimed synthetic turf football surface will provide enough material to produce enough Turf Panels to deliver a shock-absorbing and draining solution for another synthetic turf football surface.”

Turf Panels have the advantage over pre-fabricated and in-situ shock absorbing layers in that they don’t require extensive engineering of the existing surface.

The revelation followed hot on the heels of the introduction by Edel Grass of a synthetic turf carpet which consists of 43.3% reclaimed end-of-life turf. Edel Grass used the reclaimed material in both the core of the yarn, as well as the secondary coating.

Both the RSI Sports Group and Edel Grass benefited from the recent installation of a fine dust separation unit at the synthetic turf recycling plants of Re-Match in both the Netherlands and France. As Re-Match establishes the exact quality of the various synthetic turf components upon delivery at its plant, it is capable of delivering clean and reclaimed materials according to the specific needs of, in this case, either the RSI Sports Group or Edel Grass.

The prototype bench Wembley Stadium has produced will be placed within the stadium footprint in memory of a stadium employee who passed away last year.

Guy Oldenkotte

Guy Oldenkotte is senior editor of sportsfields.info and has been covering the outdoor sportssurfaces market and industry since 2003

Leave a Reply