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Gaiker-IK4 and Poligras develop synthetic lawn from recycled one

Gaiker-IK4 and Poligras are working to develop a process for the manufacture of a new, synthetic grass lawn based on football field grass that has been taken up. Thus, amongst the fractions that are reusable are those materials such as polythene, rubber and sand.

2011/07/01  Gaiker-IK4 and Poligras are working to develop a process for the manufacture of a new, synthetic grass lawn based on football field grass that has been taken up. Thus, amongst the fractions that are reusable are those materials such as polythene, rubber and sand.

The installation of synthetic grass lawns, for sporting purposes as well as decorative ones, has grown significantly in recent years, at the same time as its aesthetic characteristics and physical properties. The increase in the manufacture and installation of synthetic grass lawn means an increase in the waste that these products generate at the end of their useful lives.

These fields have a limited duration of use, that depend on the frequency of use and on the climate, amongst other factors. The average life of a 10-year-old pitch can be estimated and, so, over the coming years, those fields installed in the first years of high demand will begin to be substituted.

The fact of lawn recycling poses the need for developing technologies for separation and treatment as well as materials processing. The separation has numerous difficulties due to the volume and dirtiness of waste and the mixing of materials of different natures arising from this kind of waste.

After the suitable treatment of the waste, the main alternative to achieve the targets of this project will focus on physical recycling methods such as grinding and separation by densities, amongst others. Finally, the possibilities of incorporating materials from end-of-life treatment of obsolete lawns are being studied for the manufacture of new lawns, following eco-design guidelines. As a result of the project, the aim is to obtain a new lawn manufactured with recycled materials.

Increase in demand
It is anticipated that, over the coming years, there will be a significant increase in the demand for synthetic lawns for sports fields. The enhancement of the mechanical and physical properties, the improvement in the aesthetics, as well as the efforts undertaken by associations as important as FIFA and UEFA for the implementation of these synthetic grass lawns in the world of sports, has triggered the rise in the installation of these products.

The greatest difficulty in the recycling of synthetic lawns is in the diversity of materials and the complexity of the structure thereof. Synthetic lawns are made of a polypropylene-based lamina, a ballast of sand and a ballast of rubber which make up the elastic filling in which the erect polythene fibres are anchored. This combination of materials provides the surface with the appearance and playing characteristics of a natural grass lawn.

On terminating its useful life, the waste from these synthetic lawns do not have a specific process for recycling and valuation, and so dumping is the environmental process used. It is estimated that they generate about 14,000 tons of waste - an amount, moreover, which is increasing with time. Amongst this waste there are more than 8,000 tons of plastic material which can be reused. Achieving the targets of this project will enable Poligras to optimise their resources, to manage and make best use of the waste in an efficient way, and to incorporate recycled raw material into the manufacture of new-generation lawns

info:  Clara Bilbao,  bilbaoc@gaiker.es

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