Renewable resources & sustainability best practices in the sports surface industry

APT is committed to environmental sustainability and has been investing heavily in research to develop climate smart technology that’s eco-friendly. Dr. Stephan Sick, global head of Research and Development for Sport Group is leading a team of international scientists who are exploring ways to create new products that meet the above criteria.

One of their first successes was to create a CO2 neutral synthetic turf (Ligaturf) that contains 70% bio-based PE plastic extracted from sugarcane, which is a renewable material. All our research into environmental sustainability and best practices is under the banner of Green Technology (GT), as Simon explains in an excerpt from an interview in July, earlier this year.

What is the vision behind GT?

The vision for APT’s GT project is to develop a 100% green chain for our sports flooring, for example smart products for our synthetic turf and running tracks. We started with the Poligras Tokyo GT hockey turf, which led us to develop the world’s first carbon neutral turf.

Where does sugar cane come into the process?

Our commitment to sustainability led us to investigate raw materials that are environmentally friendly. We looked at cellulose and starch, but it was sugar cane that ticked all the right boxes. That’s because it allows us to use the highest percentage of renewable raw materials in our manufacturing processes while also meeting all our technical requirements. The PE we use contains 85% residual sugar cane with the remaining 15% from petrochemical components.

It’s also worth noting that the sugar cane is cultivated as a food source. It’s only when it reaches the third pressing and can no longer be used to produce food that we use it to manufacture our bioplastics. So, we are actually making use of a natural resource that would otherwise be wasted.

What about the energy sources for your production lines?

GT is not only concerned about the sustainability of our raw materials, but also about the energy sources that were used to produce these resources. For example, what type of energy is used to produce our polymers and yarns and ultimately our artificial turf? Has the energy been produced using wind power, solar energy or hydropower? One of our production lines in Europe uses green energy with a high proportion of wind and hydropower, making it much easier to calculate the CO2 balance for our turf and running surfaces.

What are some of the other environmental benefits of APT turf?

Apart from the benefits mentioned above, when a sports ground changes over to an APT surface they always spend less time and money on maintenance. They also don’t need to irrigate the turf and given Australia’s climate; the less water used the better. So, our artificial turf helps to conserve Australia’s precious water reserves. Sports clubs also don’t need to buy fertilisers, weedkillers or pesticides or use petrol or diesel mowers. This reduces the amount of chemicals that are introduced into our environment, whether that’s during their production or their actual use on the natural grass.

We also retrieve and repurpose the old artificial turf when it’s removed to lay Polytan turf, and we are looking into ways to further increase the repurposing and recycling of these materials. All in all, APT wants to create a 100% green chain from the laboratory right through to recycling!

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