Artificial turf fields installed 8 to 12 years ago are in desperate need of replacement. But what to do with the old turf? Landfills have become expensive options, and in some states with tough sustainability laws not an option at all. With an estimated 31,000 US fields on the line for replacement in the next 25 years, this dilemma is looming large.
Synthetic turf recycling: new process in development
The problem is becoming monumental. Artificial turf fields installed 8 to 12 years ago are in desperate need of replacement. But what to do with the old turf? Landfills have become expensive options, and in some states with tough sustainability laws not an option at all. With an estimated 31,000 US fields on the line for replacement in the next 25 years, each with 500,000lbs + of material, this paralyzing dilemma was looming large until now.
Turf Reclamation Services (TRS) says it has developed a solution for artificial turf removal and recycling that has the entire industry breathing easier. It’s the combination of new equipment that slices and rolls the turf carpet and a new recycling process that extracts the infill and recycles the carpet that makes field replacement an easier process for architects, contractors, and organizations who own the fields. “No other organization has developed such a comprehensive beginning to end solution,” said Mark Heinlein, President, TRS. “We’ve been in the artificial turf business since 1999, so we had a good perspective on what was at stake. And we found great partners to help us innovate a solution that is simple, efficient and scalable.”
Leveraging over a decade of front line artificial turf knowledge, TRS developed specialized equipment that removes the field with minimal disruption to the base. The equipment includes a self-propelled drive unit, called the Wrangler and two accessories for reclaiming the field. The Viper attachment slices the turf into manageable 45″ ribbons the entire width of the field. Each ribbon is then tightly rolled using a second attachment called the SideWinder. These rolls can then be easily loaded onto trucks for transport. A separate machine, the Rattlesnake is in final development to remove and supersack the material directly on site. The prototype Rattlesnake has proven this concept on several fields and the commercial unit is expected in late 2012.
Depending on the customer’s needs, a number of things can happen to the turf and infill once removed from the site. The turf can be repurposed into a secondary market or be recycled into new products such as synthetic turf infill. The rubber and sand infill can be reused on the project or further cleaned, sieved and separated for use on future synthetic turf projects. The entire recycling process is managed by TRS which can supply a Certified Chain of Custody to ensure the field elements have been properly handled and processed.
“Architects love the idea of being able to recycle the old turf and remove it in a way that keeps the base intact. It eliminates two major hurdles in the client’s decision to install a new field,” said Heinlein. TRS crews are providing removal services to turf contractors and have already completed projects throughout the Midwest, South and East Coast. The turf removal equipment is available to enterprising contractors for sale from TRS, www.recyclemyturf.com.