One of the problems faced by the artificial grass industry is how to recycle the fake turf and infill materials of huge playing fields. Disposal in landfills used to be the only solution.
In 1965, the world's first multipurpose, domed stadium, the Houston Astodome, opened. Workers immediately discovered that the clear panels of its dome --- intended to shed sunlight on the natural grass field --- were creating glare. Artificial grass was installed a year later. It wasn't until 45 years later that a major artificial playing field was recycled.
Artificial grass and infill materials, such as recycled tire particles, are not biodegradable. Aside from being an environmental problem, removal and disposal of the product in landfills is costly. Pennsylvania State University estimates a cost of £84,500 for disposal every eight to 10 years.
Artificial turf producers and environmental technology firms are creating methods for reclaiming and reusing the materials from old playing fields. One reuse involves converting the materials into an energy product called "synthetic turf derived fuels." In 2010, the artificial playing field of War Memorial Stadium in Arkansas was the first to be completely recycled.
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