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Wembley Stadium creates 100-percent recyclable turf field

April 1, 2024

Wembley Stadium has developed a unique new process to make its pitch 100-percent recyclable. The project is the result of a two-year plan to find a suitable solution to recycling modern-day soccer pitches, which are a hybrid of grass and synthetic plastic.

Photo: Wembley Stadium

Photo: Wembley Stadium

Many professional playing surfaces in today’s game contain plastic to make them more durable. Hybrid pitches have become popular because they offer increased reliability in variable weather and can be used more for multiple purposes.

However, the recycling of old hybrid pitches has been a challenge. The plastic contained within the hybrid pitch means they do not break down naturally and the majority of old pitches are sent to waste landfill sites at the end of their life-cycle. Now, the team at Wembley Stadium has come up with a process that means the plastic can be extracted from the pitch and repurposed. In the first of its kind, they have created a bench, made entirely out of plastic from the field.

“Extracting the plastic from a hybrid pitch is notoriously difficult, due to its compound and structure,” said Karl Standley, grounds manager at Wembley Stadium. “When we first mooted the idea of recycling it, we were told it couldn’t be done. However, we were determined to find a sustainable answer to the problem.”

Since the new stadium opened in 2007, Wembley has been committed to developing sustainable initiatives to ensure it is one of the greenest stadiums in the world.

The team already recycled large elements of the pitch (rootzone and sand) back into grassroots pitches and wanted to take the lead in the research and development of a 100-percent sustainable process for the type of hybrid pitches installed at Wembley Stadium. The team worked with recycling specialists Circular 11 to find a suitable solution.

The stadium team estimates that around 50 benches could be created from one pitch with the scope to develop the recycled plastic into other uses within grassroots soccer. The prototype bench will be placed within the stadium footprint in memory of a stadium employee who passed away last year.

“Creating something from a pitch that has had world-class players perform on it is the ultimate memento. I am excited about what else we can possibly create in the future,” said Standley.

This article is tagged with , and posted in Features, Football/Soccer, Industry, News, Turf Use

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