Artificial turf recycling is on everyone's lips. With the intensification of the public microplastic discussion, sports facilities have also come into focus. But those who only ask about artificial turf recycling are falling short: only about 5% of the material used in an average artificial turf playing field is the artificial turf itself. When installing an artificial turf system (playing field size on average approx. 7000 square meters), approx. 400 tons of material are used from the top edge of the base layer. Around half of this is accounted for by the mostly invisible elastic layer, which is responsible for a large proportion of the technical sports properties. Industry insiders estimate that there are around 5,000 large playing fields only in Germany. After about 30 years, the elastic layer usually comes to the end of its life and, after dismantling, to expensive disposal.
The legal provisions of the EU Waste & Recycling Management Act also apply to the dismantling of sports surfaces such as artificial turf systems or tartan surfaces. Thus, according to these guidelines, reuse must be prioritized over recycling. If neither is possible, recycling follows. In addition, the legislation stipulates that already at the point of occurrence, the preparation for reuse and recycling of construction and demolition waste should be realized through an increased separation on site (in this case, artificial turf, sand/infill and elastic layer). Especially when deconstructing elastic layers (EL) or elastic base layers, disposal has been the only recycling option to date. This is now to change. It is up to the client to specify in which way the deconstruction, reuse or recycling should take place.
PR Recycling was the first company to develop a mobile plant for the INSITU-recycling of elastic layers and elastic base layers and to bring it to market maturity. The mobile breakdown plant is installed on a 16.50 m long trailer. Simplified, the self-sufficient plant includes the power supply and control unit, the central decomposition unit, conveyor belts and a Big Bag filling station. During the approximately eighteen-month development period, the main focus was on ensuring that the recycled granulate obtained can be reinstalled on site using conventional machines, personnel and recipes. Managing Director Philipp Raff comments: "It is interesting that the material retains its properties virtually unchanged over its first life cycle. Only the bond between the granules has to be renewed."
PR Recycling calls this special process: RESET. With a capacity of up to 10 tons per hour, the deconstruction and recycling of the elastic layer of a sports field can be done in an environmentally and cost friendly way in about one week. This saves about 8000km of truck transports and the procurement of new 200 to of material per pitch. In addition, the environment is pleased, as CO₂ emissions are reduced due to the elimination of freight.
PR Recycling has already successfully tested this process on several projects. Basically, PR Recycling offers the possibility to have the quality of the extracted granulate checked. Thus, the plant also has a small mobile laboratory. In this way, it can be ensured that a new elastic (load-bearing) layer meets the desired quality requirements.
Next, PR Recycling has set its sights on the high-purity separation of sand and rubber granules. This mixture represents another 45% of the masses used in the artificial turf system. A solution is to be implemented before the end of 2021. Thus, PR Recycling supports the principle of domestic disposal and avoidance of transboundary waste shipment.
PR Recycling GmbH is one of the pioneers in the deconstruction and recycling of sports surfaces, such as artificial turf fields and tartan tracks. The range of services includes construction services, such as deconstruction, but also recycling, recovery and specialized transport services. PR Recycling holds all relevant permits to perform its services and also voluntarily undergoes independent annual audits for its management and recycling processes. PR Recycling is prequalified for its construction services. As a certified waste management company, PR Recycling documents all generated material flows and has had a balanced mass balance for years. PR Recycling is certified according to DIN ISO 9001. Based in Stuttgart, PR Recycling provides its services throughout Germany and in neighbouring countries.