TRS President Mark Heinlein Educates on the Opportunities for Recycling End-of-Life Turf Fields

President of TRS Spreads the Word on What Happens to Used Turf
By: Sarah Shewmaker | June 19, 2014

The number of synthetic turf fields reaching their end-of-life in the U.S. is exploding. By 2018, more than 1,000 fields will need to be replaced every year – every year for decades to come. This means that each year nearly 100 million square feet of turf and half a billion pounds of sand/rubber infill will need to find a new home. If destined for the landfill, it is a staggering amount of waste. If not the landfill, then what?

First, let’s talk turf. There are several opportunities for diverting synthetic turf from the landfill following its sports field days. One option is that the material is re-used, or repurposed. Common re-uses include batting cage surfaces, dog runs, or even reinstallation for low level rec surfaces. A second, and more sustainable option, is processing the turf into feedstock for the plastic molding industry. This includes a huge array of molded plastic parts, as well as things like plasticized lumber, plastic pallets, flooring, and non-critical auto parts, just to name a few examples. Taking turf from the field and returning it to commerce as a new plastic good is referred to as “down-cycling” and is an affordable, sustainable, and environmentally responsible practice.

Now what about the existing sand/rubber infill? There are plenty of alternative uses for this material after it has served its purpose in the field. There is equipment available that can extract essentially all of the infill out of the old carpet right on site, making it available for installation back into the new field. It can also be used for topdressing natural grass fields or be blended into garden soil mixes. If the infill components can be separated from each other, the potential uses increase dramatically because you now have discrete products with a wide range of applications.

All these opportunities are so much better than landfilling, right? We think so, too, and are committed to educating architects, field owners, contractors, and communities about the sustainable alternatives to landfilling. Our very own TRS President, Mark Heinlein (shown right), recently spoke to large groups about field reclamation at the California Recycling Conference in Sacramento and the APT/STI Conference in Waikiki, Hawaii. Mark also serves on the Synthetic Turf Council’s Crumb Rubber Task Force and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Task Group on Reclaimed Infill. He believes that the future is “green” when it comes to handling end-of-life turf fields. You can learn more about this effort and TRS’s ability to aid in the solution by checking out our previous blog on “What Happens to Used Turf”.

Artificial turf removal and recycling from Turf Reclamation Solutions (TRS):

TRS is a leading national provider of artificial turf removal and recycling solutions designed to fill a growing need in the artificial turf industry. Our services include: Artificial Turf Removal with the VIPER Turf Slicer, WINDER Turf Roller, RATTLESNAKE Infill Separator and WRANGLER Powered Base Unit. TRS is unique in its ability to offer a complete solution from removal to recycling.