23. Feb 2023
An artificial turf surface made of biobased materials, sustainable, environmentally friendly, suitable for play, is being built for the city of Ellwangen, Germany With a biobased and biodegradable synthetic turf system, the city of Ellwangen wants to reduce the discharge of microplastics into the environment and create a sustainable, future-proof alternative for new sports fields with synthetic turf.
The system is being developed by the biopolymer manufacturer Tecnaro (Ilsfeld, Germany) and the Institute for Plastics Technology (IKT) at the University of Stuttgart, Germany. The German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) is supporting the project.
Up to now, in most cases, sports fields made of artificial turf have been produced from fossil resources. The city of Ellwangen is now planning the first artificial turf pitch in Germany that will consist almost entirely of biobased materials. The model pitch is to have at least the same technical sports properties as its conventional counterparts and serve as a model and demonstration object.
Synthetic turf has a multi-layer structure. The top layer of fibres contains infill, which provides stability and elasticity and is also the main source of microplastic emissions. The development of a biobased and biodegradable infill is therefore the focus of the project. Here, the project team is relying on Tecnaro's Arboblend® materials as the basis for their new material. The goal is a biodegradability of 90 %, in soil within 24 months or in water within six months. The biggest challenge, however, is that biodegradation only starts when the infill enters the environment.
The research team is also looking for biobased alternatives for the fibre layer of the plastic turf. The aim is to find bio-compounds with suitable technical properties and to add them optimally. The materials must be particularly resistant to high temperatures during the summer months. For the elastic layer, pure, high-quality recyclates are to be used.
During the project, the researchers will check the actual plastic discharge from the site and its environmental impact. They will prepare a life cycle assessment for their plastic turf system and initiate a dialogue between the citizens and users of the sports field in the sense of education and training for sustainable development.
A more comprehensive article is planned for the next issue of bioplastics MAGAZINE