TenCate Grass, the world’s leading manufacturer, distributor and installer of synthetic turf for sports and landscape applications, has announced plans to implement a responsible end-of-life solution for artificial grass in the US.
The company has launched, in collaboration with Exxon Mobil and Cyclyx , an initiative called TenCate Turf Recycling Solutions, that will see the efficient and effective recycling of synthetic turf into a feedstock that can be used to create, among others, new turf.
The new programme, the first of its kind in the US, builds on Cyclyx’s feedstock processing expertise and ExxonMobil’s advanced recycling Exxtend technology. TenCate already recycles its end-of-life turf in the Netherlands, where the company headquarters are located. There, it is processed into Ecocept, an elastic layer in sports fields, while third parties also use the agglomerated material to manufacture new products. Now, the company wants to expand its recycling efforts worldwide.
TenCate is committed to leading the industry and moving sustainability forward in a meaningful way, said Joe Fields, President and CEO of TenCate Grass Americas. “We understand the issue of end-of-life synthetic turf, and we have taken it upon ourselves to find a true solution for the entire industry. Our goal is to keep turf out of landfills and put it back to use.”
The programme will start by processing 50 worn out turf fields from high schools and college campuses. The end-of-life turf will be shipped to a Southern California facility where it will be shredded, then shipped to Texas for further pre-processing by Cyclyx. Its final destination is ExxonMobil’s Baytown advanced recycling facility, where it will be broken down into a feedstock from which virgin-quality circular products will be produced. The recycling process, says ExxonMobil has the added advantage of delivering lower relative GHG emissions when compared to processing the same amount of fossil-based feedstocks.
The company has also announced it is expanding to a large-scale advanced recycling facility at the site with the capacity to recycle 66 million pounds of plastic waste per year, and beyond Baytown, plans are underway for up to 1 billion pounds of advanced recycling capacity annually by year-end 2026 across multiple sites globally.
“Our advanced recycling technology has already processed millions of pounds of otherwise difficult to recycle plastics, like food packaging and artificial turf, that are generally not recycled today,” said Dave Andrew, Vice President of New Market Development at ExxonMobil. “With our scalable technology and collaborations like this one alongside TenCate Grass and Cyclyx, we are helping to meet the growing demand for circular products.”
After this initial phase is complete, TenCate plans to expand the initiative across the U.S. In North America alone, the total value of installed synthetic turf systems was estimated at $2.7 billion in 2020, according to the Synthetic Turf Council. This translates into roughly 265 million square feet of installed turf.
The popularity of synthetic turf is expected to continue to grow, in view of the multiple advantages it offers. Finding an effective way to recycle it will make it an even better option.
To accelerate the effort, TenCate has become the first synthetic turf supplier to join the Cyclyx consortium. Aiming to increase plastics recycling rates, Cyclyx works with partners throughout the supply chain to find innovative ways to collect and pre-process a variety of plastics to meet the specifications of both mechanical and advanced recyclers.
“This collaboration with TenCate and ExxonMobil is notable in many ways,” said Joe Vaillancourt, CEO of Cyclyx. “It allows the ability to aggregate new types of waste plastic materials that have historically been ignored; it not only allows recycling of that turf material but provides a fully circular recycling option; and it shows the power of the collaboration that can help drive our mission of increasing the recyclability of waste plastic from 10% to 90%.”