As amazing as Purchase Green artificial grass is, it doesn’t last forever. While all of our grasses come with an industry-best lifetime warranty and have an anticipated useful life of up to 20 years, when the time comes to dispose of our grass, how do you go about doing so in an environmentally responsible way?
These days, most of us are taking the issue of sustainability seriously. Whether it’s water, energy or even artificial grass, resources are limited and conservation is a must. Fortunately, as the global market for artificial grass continues to grow, so too do innovative solutions for recycling it.
Can Artificial Grass Be Recycled?
You may have encountered people who claim artificial grass cannot be recycled. This is, put simply, untrue. Like many products, it used to be that artificial grass wasn’t recycled. The fact that it could be was beside the point. In the past, most things, including artificial grass, were taken to the landfill.
It’s taken decades of work by many dedicated people to create a culture of environmental stewardship and sustainability. Today, most of us recycle without a second thought. But, recycling artificial grass isn’t quite as simple as tossing a soda can into the blue bin.
Purchase Green artificial grass is made of common materials including polyethylene, polypropylene, polyurethane and latex. Artificial grass infill contains silica sand and may also contain vinyl if anti-fungal, anti-odor infills such as MellowFill are used. Each of these materials are themselves recyclable.
The challenge, historically, has been sorting out the logistics of separating the materials to prepare them for recycling. That’s why, in the past, it was simpler and cheaper just to toss artificial grass into a landfill. This is likely how the myth that artificial grass isn’t recyclable came to be.
Is Artificial Grass Recycled?
Today, commitment to sustainability and technological innovations are making it easier than ever to recycle artificial grass. In Europe, which is the largest artificial grass market, several companies are creating a cottage industry built on recycling artificial grass.
One Dutch company, Attero, has developed an artificial grass recycling system that more efficiently separates the grass into its component materials, each of which can then be processed and recycled. At a processing plant, Attero converts artificial grass into raw materials that can be used in the manufacturing of new products. There is a fantastic video on YouTube detailing how Attero recycles artificial grass as well as infill materials.
Once the materials are separated, the plastics can, for example, undergo a process called “re-pelletizing” in which the plastic is cut, melted and then transformed into pellets that can be used to create any number of extruded plastic products. Some artificial grass is even being recycled and transformed into carpet!
Presently the number of companies in the U.S. recycling artificial grass is quite small. Some, like Turf Reclamation Solutions, are growing but are focused primarily on sports turf recycling. But as artificial grass continues to become a more popular option for those looking to save water and save money, supply and demand will help drive the development of even better technologies for separating and recycling the materials used to make artificial grass.
When Recycling is Not Recycling
One thing to keep in mind is that several companies exist that claim to be artificial grass recyclers when in fact what they actually do is repurpose artificial grass. Such companies take old artificial grass, often sports turf that has exceeded its useful lifetime, and sell it to the public at liquidation prices. This is not recycling.
Mark Heinlein of Turf Reclamation Solutions spoke to the issues of recycling and incorrectly referring to repurposing as recycling in a 2014 article that appeared on Sportsturfonline.com.
“I think there are a couple issues that need to be clarified upfront,” Heinlein states. “The first issue is what you mean when you use the term, ‘recycling.’ Strictly speaking, recycling means making new products from waste materials. This is not happening in the turf industry to any extent. In the field reclamation business, recycling normally means either reusing or repurposing the materials.”
Heinlein added that “Because the reclaimed materials are not being processed into new materials, it’s confusing to refer to it as recycling.”
There is certainly a place for repurposed artificial grass. But it’s not recycling. The big question is whether your artificial grass is recyclable in the true sense of the word. The answer is yes, it is recyclable. But the options available to consumers today are too few and more work is needed to improve access to artificial grass recycling.