Artificial turf lawns have many advantages: for instance, they will be good for many hours of mud-free sporting activities and do not need to be watered. However, when artificial turf reaches its end of life, which can come just five to ten years after it is laid, it is very difficult to recycle. This is because it is made of different kinds of plastic that melt at different temperatures and have different viscosities. Therefore, an increasing amount of artificial turf waste is being sent to landfills, except for rubber which is used as a filler in these kinds of installations.
The RECITURF Project, led by AIMPLAS, the Plastics Technology Centre, and with the participation of the ACTECO and REALTURF companies, aims to give a boost to the circular economy in this sector. They want to use innovative waste processing methods to increase recycling and recovery rates. The project is funded by the Valencian Innovation Agency (AVI) and will focus on developing new recycling processes, including biological/enzymatic degradation and chemical recycling of the polyurethane backing. The different materials will be separated for subsequent mechanical recycling. The polypropylene, PET and polyurethane that make up this product can then be recovered.
The project will prove that the methods are viable and lay out the costs. The RECITURF project involves the sector’s entire value chain and aims to make large-scale deployment feasible.