Forest raw material substitutes plastic on the football field

Artificial lawns are major environmental hazards. According to figures from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, they release around 2,000 tonnes of microparticles annually. Some of this waste is spread in the environment. In the research project BioPitch, in which Karlstad Municipality, among others, participates, we look at the possibility of using degradable forest raw materials instead.

The need for artificial turf around Sweden is great. The greatest is the need in the Stockholm area where around 50 plans need to be built in the coming years. More football pitches so that more children and young people can play football is good, unfortunately today’s artificial turf pitches are real environmental bulls. In order to get the slightly sucking and soft feeling that is found in a natural green, artificial green lawns are filled in with different types of materials. Often, the filler material consists of plastic granules or parts of car tires.

In connection with rain and snowmelt, parts of the filling are flushed out into the stormwater systems and finally end up in lakes and the sea.

Artificial lawns – one of the largest sources of emissions

Sveaskog State is now investigating the possibility of developing granules from lignin and biocomposite from gravel as an alternative to environmentally harmful filling. The project is called BioPitch, the funding comes from BioInnovation and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

The project is a so-called hypothesis testing project to test the hypothesis, that is, show that it is possible to obtain a material that works.

Environmentally friendly filling is evaluated

“Creating a biocomposite is not that difficult. The difficulty lies in getting the material properties you want, a durable and degradable material that breaks down at a reasonable rate. It should keep playing football and fulfill the requirements set by FIFA but will also be broken down when it falls outside the plan”, says Ann-Britt Edfast, head of research and development at Sveaskog, in a press release.

In addition to RISE, which coordinates the research, the project is backed by Unisport (sits on knowledge of market, production and testing methods), Rencom (specialists in lignin-based materials), Sveaskog (stands for the raw material), Stockholm City and Karlstad Municipality (which contributes with a customer perspective that plant owners).

Read more about BioPitch here!