The new state-of-the-art synthetic turf recycling facility of Re-Match Netherlands is being built in Tiel in Gelderland and will create jobs for 35 full-time employees. Once the cleantech facility is fully operational, it will provide the capacity to recycle more than 2 million square meters of synthetic turf pitches per year (280 full pitches) from the Netherlands and Belgium. In plastic fibre alone, this saves the environment from pollution equivalent to 400 million plastic bags – every year.
Solving the real problem with a validated process
Re-Match’s patented recycling process shreds, cleans and separates worn-out artificial grass and infill without adding neither water nor chemicals in the process which provides sand, rubber, backing and plastic fibre as clean and separated end products. While some waste handlers can separate the sand from the rubber, this is not what represents the real environmental challenge of end-of-life artificial turf – it is instead the rubber and plastic fibres that are the main CO2 contributors. Separating out these materials is where the real benefit can be found as just one artificial football pitch contains an amount of plastic fibre equivalent to 1,4 mill. plastic bags. So basically, Re-Match starts where other processes stop, as the company offers the only solution where more than just one end product can replace virgin materials in new production cycles.
This environmental impact has been validated by the EU and Re-Match is the only turf recycler to have received an ETV verification*. In addition, the Re-Match process is also ISO 9001 certified – thereby ensuring customers that the process contributes real recycling.
No nitrogen emissions
With the introduction of the zero nitrogen emission requirements, the new plant had to meet standards that no company had to meet before. “This was a huge challenge”, says COO, Dr. Stefaan Florquin. ”But that’s what we do at Re-Match. We push the boundaries of environmental technologies while contributing to maximum reduction of nitrogen and the minimum use of fossil fuels. The last step towards becoming a local artificial turf recycler in the Netherlands is now successfully completed with the approval of the environmental permit”.
Dutch factory as a blueprint for expansion
The factory in Tiel will be a state-of-the-art, digitized facility that will serve as a blueprint for many new recycling plants that Re-Match will build in Europe and North America. The factory in Tiel will be followed by factories in France, the UK and in the United States. “We are proud to announce the construction of the factory in Tiel”, says CEO Nikolaj Magne Larsen. “It is an important milestone for the company and for our employees who have worked hard to achieve this goal – and we look forward to offering the most comprehensive recycling option in the Netherlands”.
EU grant to help close the cycle
While sand and rubber from the recycling process is used as infill in new fields, the synthetic fibre has so far gone towards production of products such as picnic tables, support panels and parking posts. With a grant of 2,5 million euros from the EU Green Deal, Re-Match and its project partners are developing a process for the production of new yarns from recycled turf. There yarns can then be used for the production of new synthetic pitches, thus closing the cycle. “It is our mission to ensure full circularity of synthetic turf – and to us, this means that the plastic fibre is also used for production of new turf pitches,” says Nikolaj Magne Larsen.
Tiel welcomes Re-Match
“The municipality of Tiel welcomes this innovative frontrunner in synthetic turf recycling. Tiel wants to attract future-oriented companies that offer added value for our residents and our local and regional economy. Companies that provide the jobs of the future for our residents”, says wethouder Ben Brink of the municipality of Tiel. “With their advanced factory, Re-Match offers a good solution for a growing environmental and virgin materials problem. Re-Match has chosen Tiel because of its excellent connections with the rest of the country. That and the presence of a growing number of cooperating and sustainable companies, makes Tiel an extremely suitable location”.
Ideal geographic location
The new facility of Re-Match Netherlands, which currently has an office in Rijen, will be located at Panovenweg in the industrial region Kellen in Tiel. This is not only in the centre of the country, but also close to highway A15/A2, the Amsterdam Rhine Canal and only 45 kilometres from Germany, which also makes the location as efficient as possible in terms of transport.
The site where the factory will be built, covers 31.800 m2 and the factory itself will be 8.769 m2. It will reach a height of 20 meters due to a separation tower that will carry out the final part of the recycling process, resulting in clean end products – ready to replace virgin materials in new production cycles.
A responsible choice
At Sportbedrijf Rotterdam, a leading sports facility company, they look forward to continuing the good cooperation with Re-Match: “We are happy with this new cleantech facility. If you want to make a responsible choice for recycling artificial turf, Re-Match is a very good option. They are able to separate components for 99,5% in order to replace virgin material. And there are many reasons more that justifies choosing Re-Match.”
During the new construction phase, Re-Match Netherlands will continue to collect worn-out synthetic turf pitches. These will be recycled in the new factory as soon as production starts in Tiel.
“The Netherlands is the country with the highest square meters of artificial turf per inhabitant in the world,” says Nikolaj Magne Larsen. “And we are delighted to now be able to offer the Netherlands a truly sustainable recycling solution for its end-of-life turf”.
(*) Environmental Technology Verification
With new investment capital, the Danish recycler of synthetic turf, Re-Match, sets out to build factories across Europe and North America. The first facility outside Denmark will be placed in the Netherlands to meet an increasing demand for a sustainable solution to the handling of worn-out synthetic turf.
Re-Match, based in Herning, Denmark, has developed a patented and EU verified environmental technology* for recycling synthetic turf. The process downsizes, cleans and separates worn-out turf from e.g. football pitches into the original raw materials; sand, rubber, backing and plastic fibre, which can then be used in new production cycles. The first factory in Denmark has been operational since 2016 and processes 40.000 tonnes per year. With an investment from the industry growth fund, Nordic Alpha Partners, Re-Match’s global expansion plans can now be realised.
Template for international expansion
Re-Match, who is looking at several different locations for its Dutch factory, intends to build a state-of-the-art, digitalized facility which will act as the template for the following 23 factories across Europe and North America – as well as for potential joint-ventures in South America, Asia and Australia. The Dutch factory, which will have significantly larger capacity than the existing one in Denmark, is expected to be ready for production in 2020 and will be followed by factories in USA, England and Germany.
A vision with a strong backing
The new investor, Nordic Alpha Partners, is funded among others by the second largest fund in Northern Europe, ATP, who manages assets of more than 100 billion Euro.
“It was my vision to make our environmental technology available everywhere – and now, we are making it possible”, says Founder of Re-Match, Dennis Andersen.
Nordic Alpha Partners’ strategy behind its involvement in Re-Match is to enable a quick expansion to more markets. Partner in Nordic Alpha Partners, Laurits Bach Sørensen, explains: “We invest in cases which have the potential to dominate their categories globally. When we apply our value creation model and industry 4.0 factory conceptualisation to Re-Match’s innovative recycling solution, we simply have unique concept that is both highly scalable and replicable – all over the world”.
A strong team
In order to prepare for this accelerated growth journey Re-Match recently brought on board a new CEO, Dr. Stefaan Florquin, who is a senior executive with strong international experience in operational excellence and commercialisation of circular business models. He previously held positions such as CEO of Vacuumschmeltze and VP operations in both Solutia and Eastman Chemical Company and has managed plants and capital projects all over the world. Stefaan Florquin explains: ”When I was first approached by Re-Match, they wanted me to become advisor to the company, but when I learned about the potential of Re-Match, its technology and growth plans, my focus quickly changed. Now I look forward to taking the company forward on this exiting growth journey ahead of us.”
To further strengthen Re-Match’s presence in region, Wiebe van Terwisga, has joined as General Manager for the Benelux. Mr van Terwisga is a well-known capacity within the Dutch synthetic turf market and has extensive experience in building factories.
“I am proud that we have brought the company to a level, where we have proven our concept in the market enabling us to attract such capably people and investors”, says Dennis Andersen.
Answering the call of Dutch pitch owners
In recent months the challenge of how to handle worn-out turf responsibly has been very much in the public eye in the Netherlands where a leading TV programme revealed that waste companies had received money to recycle turf but were in fact just storing the material without any kind of recycling taking place.
“One of the reasons could be that a genuine recycling method was not available – and by genuine, I mean a process that takes the turf and separates it down into clean raw materials – which can then enter a new production cycle,” says Wiebe van Terwisga and continues: “The fact 99 per cent of the material that is put through our process is fully recycled, provides an opportunity for both the turf industry and its customers to rethink what to do with worn-out turf.”
The UK-based company Sports Labs, who are experts in sports surface testing, has given two new artificial turf fields in Denmark a clear thumbs-up. The fields are installed by WGS, who chose Re-match as supplier of recycled sand and rubber for infill.
A large number of tests were performed, such as ball roll, ball rebound and water permeability. The two fields both performed well – and passed all tests without any remarks.
We created a full case study and you can download it right here
Environmental Technology Verification
The ETV certification serves as an official document, recognized worldwide and such certification confirms that Re-Match in fact do what they claim; turning waste into clean separated end products. The concept of the Environmental Technology Verification program is to offer a verification procedure to cutting edge environmental technologies that may otherwise find it difficult to establish their environmental added value.
No existing standards
The Re-Match process is an innovative environmental technology and because of the fact that our technology is innovative, there are no existing standards or approvals in the market that proves how much the Re-Match technology will benefit the market. The ETV verification is documentation that the Re-Match technology is eco-efficient and contributes to growth within green economy.
You can find the full statement of Verification by visiting the official website of the European Commision
The separated turf fibre is a clean raw material ready for new products
The Re-Match separation process for recycling worn out artificial turf ensures high quality and cleanliness of the end-products; the recreated raw materials. In this version of Turf Tips we will have a closer look at the possibilities in reusing the recycled turf fibres in new products, at the sportfacility.
When a sports club leaves their old turf to Re-Match, it is natural and perhaps a little emotional to imagine that it become a new artificial turf for training and games. But that is by far not the only way of sensible recycling. The clean turf fibres can be used in a host of products made in other industrys. Here are five examples of reusing recycled turf, all of which can be used around synthetic turf pitches and other sports facilities.
Let the smaller kids have fun swishing through the environmentally friendly slide tube while the older ones practise their skills on the synthetic turf pitch.
Field fences and shelves
A sturdy field fence keeps the ball in and intruders out. If you add a shelve or board, you can also keep infill or loose grass inside and avoid it causing micro plastic pollution. And it’s obvious to use recycled turf for the shelves and boards.
Street furniture made of recycled turf will be a winner before and after the game. For the player, their friends and family.
Imagine watching the game or training session sitting on seats made of recycled turf. It really makes sense and is a good story with built-in brand value.
New artificial turf
Last but not least, the grass fibres from the worn-out turf can become a new and fresh carpet of grass turf ready for new games and activities. As a perfect recycling.
With today’s total of 33,000 synthetic pitches around the world, and a huge, exponential growth, there are plenty reason for talking recycling. Therefore, there is a need for visionary companies who think recycling of the grass fibres into their business. The cleanliness and consistancy of the fibres makes it perfect for a broad range of new sustainable products.
Re-Match is in close cooperation with stadiums and sports facilities in many countries and supplies more and more industries with recycled turf fibers and the other recycled raw materials from artificial turf.
Creating a better business and a clean conscience
Without leaving any waste from the original components Re-Match provides sport arenas and stadiums the opportunity to dispose of their used synthetic turf without negatively effecting the environment. Re-Match will pick up your old synthetic turf for less than what you would pay in disposal fee at the landfill. This means, you will be able to dispose of your old turf in an environmentally friendly way and save money at the same time.
From all of us to all of you
We have created a sustainable solution to a growing global waste challenge within the synthetic turf industry. We have global expansion plans in place and we are ready to take 2017 by storm!
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Recycling of both carpet and infill – almost 100% material recovery is possible – if you choose the right service provider.
A number of domestic and foreign market players offer services with relation to disposal of artificial turf pitches. Unfortunately, these players may not all have access to the recycling technology, which they market. Various media reports highlight cases where used turf pitches are discarded in the middle of a forest or are incinerated – even if the pitch-owner thought he had paid for a sustainable recycling process. To avoid being charged with environmental crimes, pitch-owners should consider making a few checks prior to signing the order for waste disposal.
- Ask the company to provide a certificate from the national authorities confirming that the company specifically is cleared to transport and handle artificial turf pitches, which in most countries are classified as not-listed waste and thus requirering special expertise.
- Ask the company for a copy of the latest Annual Accounts just to verify that you are dealing with a waste processing company in existence. Lately, companies, which are registered as recycling factories, have approached pitch owners – however, they only buy enough electricity to run office equipment.
- Ask for a detailed, written description of the recycling method used by the company. Especially you want to check the recycling level and you want to know how the company will dispose of residual waste materials. Please be aware that some recycling companies have obtained an ETV certification, which will confirm their approach and process.
- Even if removal of your old, used pitch may be part of a total contract for a new artificial turf system, then you are recommended to make the above checks. If you have second thoughts about the answers, then you are recommended to split the contract providing you the opportunity to enter into a disposal contract with another service provider. Usually disposal contracts for artificial turf systems cost less than DKK 500.000, which is the cut off for tenders. You may therefore enter into a separate waste disposal contract directly with your preferred recycling company.
- In your search process for a sustainable recycling company, you may want to pay special attention to market players, which have recently invested in state-of-the-art recycling facilities. Today you have the option to enter into an agreement with a service provider, which can see to it that the material fractions from your old turf pitch system is recycled by almost 100% – and the correlating CO2 emission is only 5% of the emission which will be released if you choose to send your used turf pitch for incineration.
You have decided to replace your old turf system – what to look out for:
Direct re-use of your own infill.
Direct re-use of your old, untreated infill may negatively affect the playability of your new pitch. It is a likely health hazard to the players, and the drainage system of your new pitch may quickly clog because of the many small rub-off particles, which have agglomerated over the years in the old infill.
Use only clean, sorted infill, which can be applied in a layer-by-layer muster for your new pitches.Make sure that your quality requirement also for infill is clearly stated in the contract with your system provider.Make physical check-ups during the installation to verify, that the ordered materials are actually used for the new pitches.
Re-use of your entire old turf system.
Legally, in most countries, you could sell or give away your turf system for direct re-use. However, the new pitch-owner may inherit all the problems, which prompted you to make the replacement decision. Furthermore, the high costs for field preparation is at the same level whether the pitches are new or worn.
We encourage original turf system owners to make a sustainable decision and dispose of used pitches as waste and not to leave the waste problem with a new owner, who may also face high maintenance costs during the lifetime of a used, troublesome turf system.
Re-use of your old turf system in pieces for decorational purposes. The demand for old turf for decorational purposes is rather limited. After decorational use, nobody seems to take responsibility for proper disposal of old turf. Thus, turf pitches bound for decoration often end up in nature or incineration plants potentially creating a lot of harm to the environment.
We trust that pitch-owners would like to act responsibly. In order to ensure that your old pitch will get out of harm’s way, we encourage that old turf systems should not be used for other purposes, but be handled by professionals as waste.
The incineration of artificial turf pitches will generate much CO2. A specific research study documented an emission of approximately 337 tons of CO2 as the result of the incineration of a standard size turf pitch with a size of 7000 m2 and weighing in at 288 tons. When you incinerate a turf system then you will need to produce new raw materials in order to be able to construct a new pitch. Another study have produced evidence that the production of 82 tons of new raw materials (polyethylene and polypropylene) will cause the emission of another 82 tons of CO2. The total environmental impact is close to 419 tons CO2.
From a sustainable perspective, incineration is not a valid option. As a pitch-owner, you need to consider whether such an impact is acceptable for your company or organization. We encourage pitch-owners to support the politics of the circular economy and opt for a recycling solution.
Please note that the EU Waste Directive forbids the disposal of shredded tires at waste deposits. Shredded tires (or SBR) is a basic component of many artificial turf systems – and it is almost impossible to separate more than approx. 70-80 percent of the infill from the used carpet.
Due to the content of infill, it is not legal to send a used carpet for incineration. We encourage pitch-owners to choose recycling as their preferred method of disposal.
When should you as a pitch owner make the replacement call?
A number of (local) conditions will usually play a major role determining the actual, technical lifetime of your artificial turf system. The most important factors include the original product quality of the used infill and carpet; the construction of the base and under layer; the wear and tear from players, maintenance machinery and unauthorized users as well as all-year weather conditions.
The technical life time
By normal usage, the technical lifetime for standard artificial turf systems average 8-10 years. Hereafter you should be expecting:Loop holes in the carpet, which are hard to mend. Thus, players are likely to face a higher risk of injuries. In addition, it may become almost impossible to regain an acceptable playing condition around the mended spots.The grass fibers are worn and torn – also, they often lie flat. It may be very difficult to brush up the fibers, making it impossible to secure proper playing conditions (speed of the ball).Over time, the volume of external impurities will grow and thereby pose a hazard to the health of the players and create drainage problems. Such impurities may include fractions of glass, metal, pencils, capsules etc.During the usage, small particles will loosen from the material fractions of the turf system. These rub-off particles are likely to stick-together and clog up the drainage system. As a result flooding is likely to occur and subsequently the infill will “sail away” – even beyond the boundaries of the pitches. During wintertime, the pitches will be covered by ice, because of a clogged drainage system.
maintenance of old and new pitch systems.At some point in time, owners of artificial turf systems are faced with maintenance costs for an old turf installation, which are likely much higher than the depreciation of a new pitch. In addition, it is worth noting that product development is really moving fast these years. Investment in third or 4th generation pitches will normally help the pitch owner to reduce the maintenance costs considerably – and with clearly improved playability, new pitches are likely to attract a wider crowd of players – maybe from a higher league, which will often overcompensate and justify an investment.
Sponsors are also more attracted to the new generation of pitches. Do not forget to include additional sponsor opportunities in your final calculation.