Material flow analysis for Norway’s artificial turfs
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The artificial turf industry is a producer of waste in terms of plastic, microplastic and sand. It is the second largest source of microplastic lost to the environment in Norway, after wear of car tires, according to the Norwegian Environment Agency . A new full-size synthetic football field contains about 100 tons of rubber granules as intentionally added microplastics. Maintaining these fields means refilling the turf with 3.5-6.5 tons granules each year due to a loss caused by the user, removal of snow, surface water runoff and degradation of the rubber granules. The turf also includes 4.8-12.8 tons of synthetic grass fiber, an underlying shock pad (PAD) and about 120-176 tons of sand. The total number of artificial turfs in Norway is approaching 2000, a number that has rapidly increased the last 20 years. Since the expected lifetime of a turf is around 10-12 years, it is soon due for a huge renovation process of existing turfs. The value chain of this complex product stock is not fully developed. This study analyses the material flow (MFA) of artificial turfs in Norway with a focus on the production of new turfs, refilling of granules in existing turfs, renovation of turfs and loss of grass fiber and granules. The results show that there is a significant amount of rubber granules and grass fibers unaccounted for, possibly lost to the environment. This is due to the current design, operation and maintenance of the artificial turfs. Therefore, there is a need for new design of turfs, new operations, maintenance equipment and procedures.