According to an article by Paul Steinbach in the July/August issue of Athletic Business, an increasing number of companies — not only turf system manufacturers, but also others that don’t deal directly in the marketing of turf fibers — are asking a different question, “How do we replace crumb rubber as an infill?”
Many are circling back to nature itself for the answer, as materials such as cork, coconut fibers, walnut shells and olive pits are being reconstituted into infill materials that some claim outperform crumb rubber while sidestepping many of crumb rubber’s negatives.
Dan Bond, president and CEO of the Synthetic Turf Council, a membership-based advocacy group. “Over 90 percent of those fields have crumb rubber infill, and the other infills — the coconut, the EPDM, the virgin rubber, thermoplastics — are 1 to 2 percent,” Bond says. “It’s a very small market share. It’s growing, but it certainly is not going to overtake crumb rubber in 5 years.”