The Natural Side of Artificial Grass

When you read the word “petroleum” what do you immediately think of? Natural? Probably not. If you’re like most people, the words “oil” or “gasoline” likely come to mind. While the fuels derived from petroleum have advanced and transformed our civilization, so too have other products derived from petroleum – namely, plastics.

Plastics have revolutionized the world. Since their discovery in the 1800s, plastics derived from petrochemical sources have become a fundamental building block of the modern world.

Try to imagine life without plastics – everything from your smartphone to your car to your home would be either radically different or wouldn’t exist at all. Artificial grass is no exception. Most artificial grass is made using a blend of plastic polymers – typically a combination of polyethylene, polypropylene and nylon.

Despite the truly mind-boggling array of products made possible by petroleum, we all know it is a finite resource. That’s why at Purchase Green we’re pleased to offer our Eco Line of grasses that are made, at least in part, from soy polymers. Soy polymers are renewable and sustainable. We think that’s important. We also think it’s really fascinating. So how do you create artificial grass from a soy bean?

From Sushi Side to Green Grass

If you enjoy sushi there’s a good chance you also like, or have at least eaten, edamame. The popular sushi restaurant appetizer is nothing more than steamed soybeans that are salted and served in a bowl. Yet these same tasty beans can be transformed into a huge variety of commercial and industrial products.

Soy beans, as well as a number of other vegetables, can be used to create what are known as natural oil polyols, or NOPs. Polyols are compounds that are found in polymers, such as polyurethane and polyethylene. NOPs, then, are polymers created using a natural oil rather than petroleum. Not only are the polymers created in this fashion sustainable and renewable, in many cases they biodegrade much more readily than their petroleum-based counterparts.

Such polymers are generally characterized as biomaterials. More specifically, the U.S. Department of Agriculture refers to products made with NOPs as biobased products. The agency has an informative website with all sorts of information about biobased products and their application in various industries.

Perhaps the most common use of soy as a biobased product is in the creation of soy polyurethane. If you examine our artificial grasses, you’ll find that some of them have a polyurethane backing. Our Eco Line has a soy polyurethane backing instead.

At Purchase Green, caring for and protecting the environment has always been part of the job. We’re proud that today we’re able to offer a product that not only saves water but also is manufactured using renewable materials.

Our Eco Line is a fantastic product. It looks and feels amazing. And in addition to its soy-based backing, our Eco Line is tufted in America and features our cool yarn technology. It saves water, it stays cooler and its even easier on the environment. It’s a triple threat of environmental awesomeness!

Bean Futures

The biobased product industry is still a relatively nascent one. Hardworking researchers and brilliant chemists continue to figure out new ways to manipulate natural products such that they can replicate the attributes of synthetic ones.

The future for biobased products looks bright, and it’s not only soybeans getting in on the action. SPI, the plastics industry trade association, recently released a new report on the current state of bioplastics. The report, Bioplastics Simplified, illustrates how new plastics are being created using a diverse array of source materials – including soybeans, sugar cane, wood and even feathers!

So who knows, maybe in a few years Purchase Green will have an artificial grass made from sugar cane and feathers. Until then, if sustainability is important to you, like it is to us, check out our Eco Line. You can visit us online or in person at one of our 17 locations in California and Nevada. We’ll be happy to show you just how green Purchase Green really is.

Photo credit: kevin dooley via Foter.com / CC BY

 

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Posted on April 11, 2016