Building for tomorrow. FieldTurf’s commitment to sustainability

FieldTurf’s promise to keep players safe on turf has evolved into an obsession — one with a singular focus to completely eliminate potential to harm not just people, but the environment too. FieldTurf strives for the lowest impact on people and the planet — from Cradle to Cradle™ manufacturing, to circular design, to the utmost care for those who play on and handle FieldTurf products.

When it comes to waste, FieldTurf’s mission is simple: create a future where no products ever make it to a landfill. Getting there isn’t just a journey; it’s a quest. It’s why FieldTurf has devoted research and development efforts to tackle the complexity required to recycle old turf. It’s also why FieldTurf repurposes key materials from end-of-life installations to create the advanced components of future products. With such initiatives, FieldTurf continues to be at the forefront of developing technology to expand end-of-life turf applications — transforming would-be waste and dispersed materials into useful new products with renewed value. As a result, FieldTurf has developed a value-added EuCertPlast recycling process for artificial turf, named ProMax R (standing for Recycled EOL).

EuCertPlast is a European certification program for the recycling of plastic waste. FieldTurf, through the plant MET (Morton ExtrusionsTeknik), is the first company that has been certified by EuCertPlast for the recycling of post-consumer artificial turf. With this certification it is guaranteed that the plastic waste from old artificial turf is re-used in a sustainable and eco-friendly way. EuCertPlast sets great value upon the traceability of the recycling process. By this certification it is guaranteed:

  • That the material from old artificial turf is not disposed on a landfill or incinerated, but recycled.
  • That there are defined incoming controls for the incoming old artificial turf material and quality controls for the resulting recycling product.
  • That every step during the recycling process is documented including a mass balance.

When contracted with our certified regional partners to remove our clients old artificial turf fields, we can, in turn recycle the artificial turf into ProMax R, certified by Eu CertPlast. As part of this program, our customers receive a certificate that the amount of removed old artificial turf has been recycled including product name and lot number of the new product. The share of the recycled material in the new product amounts to at least 15 weight percent.

FieldTurf continues to work hard to develop other applications for EOL turf both for sports fields and for other industrial products.

Synthetic turf helps MLB to deliver

Since the American Major League Baseball organization targeted Europe as a key growth market, it knew upfront that the stakes would be high for any baseball game played on European soil. The London Olympic stadium was identified as being the perfect venue. The synthetic surface temporarily installed for the fantastic event delivered the finishing touch.

Following successful baseball campaigns in Australia, Japan, Mexico and Puerto Rico, American Major League Baseball (MLB) decided that the time had come to bring the game to Europe. They were well-aware that they were in for a massive challenge. The sport certainly has a significant following in Europe but finding a suitable venue would be a challenge of a different magnitude as there is no baseball-specific venue in Europe that could accommodate large groups of fans. Knowing that Londoners are ‘big event-goers’ and that the English capital hosts sold-out events frequently, the suggestion of MLB to consider the former London Olympic Stadium was well-received. The presence of an athletics track meant that the dimensions of the venue would afford enough space to fit a baseball field. Being a former Olympic venue, London Stadium still has many, if not all, facilities and quality standards that the MLB considered vital to delivering a game of huge magnitude. As the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees quickly expressed specific interest in participating in the London Games, the MLB knew that it had secured all the ingredients necessary to establish a new benchmark. All that was left was to set for a date that would allow the preparation of the field at a time where the climate conditions would be best.

London Olympic Stadium is the home ground of West-Ham United F.C. and their summer break would be the best time-frame to change the field into a baseball field. With a concert scheduled for 1 June and a Diamond League athletics meeting scheduled for 20 and 21 July, dates in late June were be the only possibility left. All parties settled on 29-30 June 2019 to host two Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees games.

Flexible solution

With only three weeks to establish a field and another three weeks to return the venue to its official state, the decision was made to install a synthetic turf surface. Natural grass was not an option due to the little time available for the installation of the field, as well as the fact that, once removed, it couldn’t be used again in 2020. The 2019 event is the first part of a two-year deal. With rain hampering the preparations during 16 of the first 18 days, the organizers certainly counted their blessings for settling on a synthetic turf surface.

FieldTurf was contracted to produce the surface. They shipped over 15,000 square meters of its FieldTurf Vertex carpet from their plant in Auchel, France to the London venue. The carpet combines six ridged monofilament fibers that are tufted with one slit film fiber per tuft. This combination delivers an exceptional resilience and contributes to an appearance and behavior that resembles a natural turf field. A mixture of standard SBR, cryogen SBR and sand provides players with the required stability. Clay for the pitcher’s mound and home plate area, as well as dirt for the infield, was shipped in from the USA.

For the preparations, installation and removal of the field, MLB relied on input from local partners. They awarded the project to Hewitt Sportsturf and Slatter Sports Construction. Both companies are local partners for ESTC member FieldTurf Tarkett. J&E Sports, another ESTC member, was subcontracted to the project. All in all, 110 experts from the various companies were on site day and night, resulting in on-time delivery and the removal of the field in just under three days. All components used are currently safely stored in a warehouse near London to enable the use of synthetic turf for the 2020 games again.

Well received

The two games in London were the first ever at which the Red Sox faced the Yankees outside the USA. They were also the first in which both teams competed on synthetic turf. It didn’t bother either the management or players of either team. ‘It’s the first Yankees-Red Sox game out of the country, so why not a lot of firsts?‘ New York pitcher CC Sabathia remarked when asked by an AP reporter. ‘I think it will be fine,’ he added. Synthetic turf is the surface of choice in many USA lower league baseball competitions. It is also the surface used for the home grounds of MLB teams Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays. ‘I am assuming it’s like Toronto’s or Tampa’s, so it shouldn’t be an issue,’ Yankees manager Aaron Boone said in the same AP article. Boone received support from Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts. ‘If we had never played on turf, it would be different, but we’ve played on turf.’

All in all 50 runs were scored with the Yankees winning both games, the most ever in consecutive games between the Yankees and the Red Sox. More importantly, both games broke or met several records in MLB history. The three first-inning home runs the Red Sox had in the second game was an accomplishment that matched their earlier feat in their August 14, 1979 game. The eighth-inning homer by Didi Gregorius during this game extended the Yankees’ record of consecutive games with a home run to 31. The first game lasted for 4 hours and 42 minutes, three minutes shorter than the longest nine-inning game in MLB history. The 30 total runs scored during this game, were the second-most ever. Most importantly, perhaps, the attendance of 59,659 was the highest at any MLB game since September 28, 2003. Such attendance truly reflects the viability of hosting MLB games in Europe, while the temporary synthetic turf surface has proven its worth. ‘Around a third of the spectators at the baseball games came from overseas, generating millions of pounds for London’s hotel, restaurant and retail industries,’ London Stadium CEO Graham Gilmore said while pointing out how his venue and London had benefitted from the game. The London Stadium alone sold 80,000 pints of beer, 10,000 hotdogs and 2,600 bags of monkey nuts.

More in stock

The 2019 games were part of a two-year agreement. If things work out well, they might soon be considered the curtain-raiser for much more than just four games. ‘We are in advanced talks with MLB about a new contract from 2021 onwards,’ Gilmore announced. He knows already that in June 2020 the London Stadium will host the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs. Both clubs also have a long-standing rivalry that will certainly fuel a need for victory.

Baseball fans all over Europe are eager to learn what will happen after next year’s games. Rumour has it that France is also keen to host a baseball event. If that is the case, MLB could follow suit with the American NBA and NFL and start incorporating European venues in its regular calendar. One thing for sure is that there is no need to worry about the surface or the ability of the synthetic turf industry to meet all requirements. Based on the several new records that have been set and feedback received from the fans, it can truly be said that they managed to deliver.

Why the Fiber Performance Index Will Change How People Buy Artificial Turf

Almost everything we buy today — from books to cars — is subject to a rating system designed to help consumers invest in the best possible product. The more reliable the source or individual reviewer, the greater the public trust put in that particular ranking.

For years, organizations investing in artificial turf, did not have an objective source of information to turn to when it came to factors such as durability and resilience in competing surfaces. Thankfully this has now changed however, with the advent of Labosport’s Fiber Performance Index.

Responding to the needs of architects, facility owners and venue operators, Labosport — a sport-surface certification company — introduced the Fiber Performance Index in late 2015. Considered the first true measurement of fiber quality, the FPI establishes a rating for turf fiber and helps turf consumers understand and weigh the qualities of an individual product’s turf fibers.

FieldTurf is actively involved in the FPI programme, which as an independent concept, focuses on three key factors:

measured by UV exposure and fiber wear resistance

measured by the recovery of the fiber after compression

measured by the feel of the fiber

These key aspects are measured by 4 specific tests:

• Tear: Measures a fiber’s cross tenacity; this test is commonly used by the plastics industry for quality control purposes.

Recovery: Measures fiber resilience after an exhaustive 6,000-cycle compression test; this test uses specially designed
equipment to reproduce athletes running on a field.

UV: Measures a fiber’s resistance to UV exposure; this test is designed to match the most demanding standards.

Feel: Measures a fiber’s softness using an innovative method from the consumer goods industry; qualified technicians conduct this test, and results are processed through a statistical model to ensure repeatability and accuracy.

Fiber is measured after undergoing this battery of tests and is then assigned a grade based on a scale of 1 to 100 in each category. The result is a final Fiber Performance Index number, which describes the overall fiber quality. The higher the number, the better.

An example of a FPI score would look like this:

Tear: 51

Recovery: 82

UV: 48

Feel: 62

Fiber Performance Index: 62

It’s important to remember that the choice of fiber is only one of many important decisions that need to be made when installing an artificial turf field. As significant as the FPI is, other components of the turf system — such as infill, backing, drainage and construction — are equally important. The best combination of them all results in the artificial turf field of your dreams.

At FieldTurf, we continue to certify our systems according to the FPI programme, making it easier for all project stakeholders to make an informed choice.