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Can you recycle artificial grass?

Can you recycle old artificial grass?

There have been numerous advances in the production and manufacture of artificial turf over the past few years, with many products now offering an 8-15 year warranty on the lifespan of the turf. Gone are the days of having to use cheap, shiny, lime green turf that only lasted a few years before it needed uplifting and taking to landfill.

Even the most durable artificial grass however, will not last forever. The artificial turf industry as a whole has made great advances towards a more environmentally responsible method of disposing turf and improving sustainability throughout the world. Sugar cane for example is now being used within some turf products. Sugar cane is a natural bio-based plant which absorbs carbon dioxide in the air rather than emitting it, like other oil-based materials do.

What is artificial grass made out of?

While artificial grass is generally manufactured using plastic materials – polypropylene, polyethylene, latex and polyurethane, which can all easily be recycled – it also contains infill. The infill is generally sand or rubber granules and this infill makes the artificial turf extremely heavy and difficult to remove from the recyclable components of the turf. While there has been great advances made overseas in manufacturing equipment to extract the materials used in synthetic grass, the availability of this equipment is very limited.

Is any progress being made to recycle artificial grass in New Zealand?

There may be companies who claim to recycle their turf, which in New Zealand currently would be highly questionable. Yes, we can sometimes ‘repurpose or re-use artificial turf’, though this in itself is extremely difficult due to its weight and being able to uplift the turf without considerable damage to it. Old artificial turf can sometimes be moved and relocated to help with erosion control, pet kennels, or spectator areas in sporting grounds, but an old tennis surface for instance will never be in a condition to repurpose and use again as a tennis court. If turf is in a reasonable condition, we will always try and come up with a solution to repurpose the turf.

Technology is advancing quickly and the industry is working towards a viable solution in New Zealand in the near future. It’s important to all of us.

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