26th Apr 2023
The specialist topic seminar was hosted at the Hilton Hotel in Newbury. Alongside many of our partners, we were treated to an in-depth look at future organic infills for the artificial turf pitches we design and build. In our ever-changing world it is impossible not to see that climate change is affecting us all and at S&C Slatter we strive to be at the front of positive change. With the very nature of the synthetic turf pitches we are constructing, the importance of creating a more sustainable future is paramount for the planet and our business.
In September of 2022 the European Union (EU) drafted new regulations including the ban of placement of SBR (Styrene Butadiene Rubber) into the market, effectively outlawing polymeric infill material for Artificial Turf Pitches. This leaves the synthetic sports turf industry looking for new organic versions of the performance infills for our pitches. Reducing carbon footprint and eliminating microplastics are the key components to the legislation. As always, S&C Slatter is making positive changes to remain ahead of the curve.
The changes are proposed to be enforced in Europe in 2031. Although the final legal vote is yet to be taken it is seen as a given that the legislation will be passed this year. This will have a profound effect on the industry and the planet. Despite Britain leaving the EU, the change in EU laws will likely affect the synthetic turf industry in the UK. The FIFA and World Rugby standards will drive these changes due to international standards for artificial turf pitches needing to be adhered to in UK.
The seminar was centred on the ways the industry can move towards a sustainable future ahead of the changes enforced by the EU. The increased durability of the fibres used, and improved maintenance of pitches will be the first step to minimise the environmental impact of pitches. Circularity and recycling of the old pitches allow for the industry to reduce the impact on the environment. Whether using mechanical or chemical recycling, ongoing pilot studies are allowing Tarkett Sports and their partners to investigate all avenues for improving the sustainability of the turf itself.
Carbon footprint is a buzz word in the climate change conversation. However, this is an incredibly complex calculation to accurately identify over the life cycle of a synthetic sportsturf pitch. Examples of the input factors to be considered include: the use of energy in the manufacturing process, transportation to and from the production factories, waste during production and the end of life of a pitch are to name just a few factors in deciphering the ‘carbon footprint.’ The Environment Product Declaration (EPD) is a declaration that ‘qualifies environmental information on the life cycle of a product to enable comparisons between products fulfilling the same function .’ The EPD methodology is based on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of a product which is verified by a 3rd party to give consumers the information to compare across products.
Reducing the use of virgin Polyethylene (PE) will reduce the carbon footprint of a product. At Tarkett Sports there is a drive to understand the ways the business could reduce the PE content to lower the CO2 emissions. Cleaner energy use at the fibre production factory, improving the layout of the factory and more efficient manufacturing processes all contributed to the reduction of CO2. The calculation that is understood to be broadly accurate is that 1 full-sized pitch creates approximately 50 tonnes of CO2, which is the same as a family for 1-year!
The move towards organic infills has already begun and Tarkett Sports and S&C Slatter are at the forefront of this important environmental change in the UK. The options available are varied and have the potential to greatly improve the environmental sustainability impact of synthetic turf pitches. Although a closely guarded secret, the options presented during the seminar show the depth of knowledge and an incredible attention to detail by Tarkett Sports that will ensure the environment is better protected, whilst minimising the end-users playing experience. Whether through the application of dual filament turf pitches, sand-based pitches or the new carbon negative organic derivatives, it is important to remember that the pitches will always require resurfacing due to poor maintenance rather than the excessive playing time. Maintenance has always been an essential part of ensuring the pitch’s optimum life cycle. S&C Slatter provide all our clients with the appropriate level of maintenance training during the lifetime of our pitches to ensure the best playing experience for users. S&C Slatter truly build outstanding sports pitches for high performance teams and future sustainability of the planet!
Whether delivering large-scale projects to tight time frames for elite competition, or small refurbishments for community use, we pride ourselves on delivering first-class sports facilities for top performance, maximum use and longevity, with the certifications and success rate to prove it.