Can “AstroTurf” Save The Planet?

March 1, 2011


Astroturf is becoming more than a ground cover for these soccer players

Who would have thought that artificial turf would be good for the environment? I know I have always thought of it as a blight, a replacement for natural grass that didn’t make environmental sense. Turns out I was short-sighted in my judgement of turf. It saves natural resources and provides another use for a potentially caustic waste product.

According to the Synthetic Turf Council, replacing natural grass fields with artificial turf can save substantial amounts of water, three billion gallons in North America. Also, the turf doesn’t require fertilizers or pesticides to keep it looking green, saving over a billion pounds in chemicals. Mowing is not required, saving energy and reducing smog emissions. This lack of maintenance is one reason it is the perfect surface for indoor arenas.

Artificial turf is made of recycled tires, called crumb rubber, keeping them from inhabiting landfills or being burned. According to Liberty Tire Recycling, over 105 million used tires have been recycled to make turf in North America. Liberty is the number one provider of recycled tires in the U.S.

The crumb rubber provides cushioning and springiness to the turf, protecting athletes from injury. It also helps the turf dry quickly, drain excess water, reduce mud and dust, and minimize freezing. Crumb rubber is also used to make welcome mats, antifatigue mats, portable speedbumps, and weightlifting plates.

“Synthetic turf is an excellent investment for the environment,” said Jeffrey Kendall, CEO of Liberty Tire Recycling. “It provides an outlet for millions of scrap tires and helps to keep these tires out of the waste stream. We hope that the work and research the Synthetic Turf Council performs will help to increase awareness about the numerous benefits synthetic turf can provide for our environment and our communities.”

While it may not single-handedly save the planet, artificial turf can lower the environmental impact of sports arenas and fields, as well as saving on maintenance expenses.

Source: Synthetic Turf Council, Liberty Tire Counciling

Photo Source: Stock.xchange: John Cho



Dawn Killough

has over 15 years experience in the construction industry and is the author of Green Building Design 101, an e-book available from Amazon. She is a LEED AP and Certified Green Building Advisor, and has worked on the LEED Certification of three projects in Salem, Oregon.