Tyre granulate on pitches reduces environmental impact in several ways

New life cycle assessment:

25 Apr 2019

Viewed over the entire life cycle, recycled tyres used as infill material have a lower environmental impact than alternative materials, which can be measured in a number of ways. This is revealed in a new life cycle assessment which studies the most common materials used on football pitches.

A life cycle assessment studies environmental impact throughout the product’s entire service life. A life cycle assessment can therefore be an effective tool to compare potential environmental benefit when selecting, for example, infill material for all-weather pitches.

The life cycle assessment which Ragn-Sells has commissioned together with Svensk Däckåtervinning and Norsk Dekkretur shows that recycled tyre material (SBR) has the lowest environmental impact in all eight categories studied. It includes climate emissions, how much fossil-based energy is consumed, acidification and use of agricultural land.

Newly manufactured alternatives to SBR, such as ethylene-propylene rubber (EPDM) and thermoplastic rubber (TPE), have a considerably greater impact on climate than recycled tyre material. EPDM leads to 15 times higher emissions of greenhouse gases than SBR, while TPE produces 28 times greater emissions. In terms of the pitches’ service life, it is thus difficult to justify the choice of rubber material made of virgin raw materials. They are sometimes marketed as good environmental choices, however, such claims do not have an overall perspective on what is good for the environment.

Cork Infill material produces somewhat more climate emissions than SBR, but at the same time requires 88 hectares of cork plantation to provide an eleven-a-side pitch with infill material for ten years (the study estimates a service life of four years for cork material). No other material comes close to the same impact on agricultural land.

Today we are using the Earth’s resources in a way that is not sustainable. Ragn-Sells is endeavouring to ensure that recycled tyre material is used in such a way that as much as possible stays in the cycle, at the same time as the impact on the environment and people’s health is kept to a minimum. Granulate made of recycled tyre material has been shown to deliver superior playing qualities on pitches. It is also cost-effective, including in terms of climate emissions per krona spent. It enables more pitches to be built and gives more people the opportunity to take part in sports and stay healthy.

It is important to always construct and maintain all-weather pitches correctly, ensuring that the infill material stays on the pitch. Both the Swedish Football Association and Ragn-Sells have produced guidelines for how the pitches should be laid and maintained.

Read and download the life-cycle assessment here.

Facts: This is how the study was conducted

The eight environmental impact categories studied were climate emissions, use of fossil-based raw materials, acidification, marine eutrophication, eutrophication in watercourses, tropospheric (ground-level) ozone, use of agricultural land and use of water.