Synthetic Turf And Sustainability

From schools and businesses to homeowners, a growing number of segments are turning to synthetic turf for sustainable landscape and play solutions. As of 2012, the estimated total amount of synthetic turf installed in North America annually conserves six billion gallons of water and eliminates close to a billion pounds of harmful fertilizers and pesticides. Now, even more innovative practices and programs are being developed to further synthetic turf’s positive impact on the environment.

Significant Water Saving Impact

Depending on the region and climate of the area one full-size synthetic turf sports field saves 500,000 to 1,000,000 gallons of water each year. During 2011, about six billion gallons of water were conserved through its use according to the EPA.

Thousands of homes, businesses, golf courses, and public spaces have turned to synthetic grass to provide a lush, attractive landscape solution that requires minimal resources. The EPA states that nationwide landscape irrigation is estimated to account for almost one-third of all residential water use, totaling more than seven billion gallons per day. Yet water conservation is more critical than ever before. Just a few months ago Sourthen California suffered one of the worst droughts in state history.  As climate change happens water supplies change and anything that helps conserve water should be maximized.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority estimates that every square foot of natural grass replaced saves 55 gallons of water per year. If an average lawn is 1,800 square feet, then Las Vegas homeowners with synthetic grass could save 99,000 gallons of water each year. Recognizing its ability to conserve water, the Simi Valley City Council adopted an ordinance allowing single-family homeowners to cover their front yards almost entirely with synthetic grass.

Replacing grass landscape and sports fields with synthetic turf has eliminated the need for nearly a billion pounds of harmful pesticides and fertilizers, which has significant health and environmental implications. The EPA notes runoff of toxic pesticides and fertilizers is a principal cause of water pollution. Synthetic turf also keeps more than 105 million used tires out of landfills, since crumb rubber recycled from used tires is often used for infill.

Reclamation of Synthetic Turf Installations

When a synthetic turf field reaches the end of its useful life, a number of organizations are finding creative ways to reuse system components. A few companies hope to improve golf course sand traps by lining sand traps with older synthetic turf fields. Sand typically washes out in traps, creating mud until the sand is replaced. A recycled synthetic turf lining protects the integrity of the sand trap and limits erosion. Through a new innovative Green Edge Recycling Program, all components of synthetic grass can be either reused or recycled. Once the synthetic turf field is taken up, the infill (sand & rubber) is removed, cleaned and reused in future fields.