One of the challenges the synthetic turf industry is determining how best to manage the removal and disposition of synthetic turf once it has reached the end of its useful life.
Synthetic turf includes a variety of polymers such as polyethylene, polypropylene, nylon, styrene butadiene rubber and polyurethane. Natural materials such as silica sand and calcium carbonate are also present. These materials must be separated in order to be recycled and the variety presents a unique challenge not seen in other recycled materials such as plastic bottles, carpet or plastic bags.
The conversion of synthetic turf into recyclable material is very complex and costly. Once the decision has been made to recycle the synthetic turf, the turf is cut, picked up and rolled into easily transportable bundles.
The Infill must be removed from the turf and further separation may be required to separate sand and debris.
After components have been removed from the turf, it can be broken down into materials suitable for post-consumer recycle content in the plastics industry or reuse as a component in its original form.
The other components of the synthetic turf such as the infill have different reuse and recyclable processes depending on its composition. Infill such as the Crumb Rubber can be reuse as infill on new synthetic turf sports field or landscape installations, road base, acoustic barriers, floating docks and energy can be recovered from crumb rubber infill by incineration, pyrolysis or gasification.
Both EPDM and TPE infill are reusable as infill and recyclable into infill or other products. Energy can also be recovered from TPE where the calorific value (CV) can be up to 25-30 MJ/kg.
At the end of its life cycle, organic infill can be recycled directly into the environment.
Pure Silica Sand can be reused as infill on new synthetic turf sports fields or landscape installations. It can also be used in natural turf soil amendments to improve wear tolerance and prolong playability.
Coated Crumb Rubber can be recovered, sanitized and recoated for reuse as infill for synthetic turf sports systems and can be recycled into rubberized asphalt or molded products.
Other parts of the synthetic turf have various reuse and recyclable purposes, some of which include:
• Shock Pads which last more than one turf lifecycle. Select pads can also be reused for other uses such as golf mats and farm animal mats.
• Integrated Drainage and Shock Pad Underlayment which can be recycled and incorporated into a new drainage pad or other products. Cross-linked polyethylene can be a fuel source and has a caloric value of 45 MJ/kg.
• Baseball: Batting cages, in front of dugouts, bullpens, indoor practice and hitting facilities
• Golf: Driving ranges, lining for sand traps for erosion control, tee lines, driving mats,
• Sports fields: grass field sidelines, running track protective strips, band practice field, indoor general use practice and play fields
• Landscape and Recreation: Play areas, small landscape areas, highway erosion control, dog runs, pet parks, equestrian stables and airports.
• Energy can be recovered from synthetic turf by incineration, pyrolysis or gasification.
It can be used in synthetic lumber such as boards, railroad ties, posts and also to produce parts such as Injection molded parts and Compression molded products.
Recycling your old synthetic turf
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