Auckland, December 25, 2019
An Auckland company is breathing new life into plastic waste that would otherwise be destined for landfill – turning it into a base for sports fields.
Ecocept mixes plastics and old car tyres, replacing the traditional rock and rubber sports pads beneath synthetic turf.
Gurdwara Sri Kalgidhar Sahib Sikh Temple in the South Auckland suburb of Takanini was one of the first in the country to try the product.
Its newly-built football field was barely affected by a heavy rainfall.
Stephen Stones, Managing Director, TigerTurf – a company that installs synthetic turf, said the base had made a difference.
“We have had really heavy rain all morning. If this was an actual field, it will just be a bog. It will be wet. You can see it is dry. All the water has gone. You can play on it straight after the rain,” he said, adding that the artificial fields could increase play time to a large extent,” he said.
Ecocept was developed by TigerTurf’s Europe-based parent company TenCate Grass.
Stones said it used all kinds of plastics – from milk bottles to bread bags – and no sorting was needed.
He said the plastics could be ground into little chips before being made harder then bound together with tyre chips, with holes between the granules allow water to run through.
Stones said the environmental benefit was huge.
“So in the case of the field here at the Sikh temple, we have around 50,000 kgs of plastic waste that would have gone to landfill, and we have got the equivalent of around 6000 car tyres that would have gone to landfill, to make a piece of infrastructure which will last here for at least 30 years,” he said.
At the Temple’s new field, there are also three big tanks at one end storing water collected from the drainage – which can then be reused.
Stones said that when the synthetic turf on top of the base wore out, it could be reused to make more of the base.
In the meantime, the plastics and rubber were being imported from Europe because it was cheaper with foreign government subsidies.
Using local waste products
Stones said the company would love to get to a point when it could use waste from New Zealand.
“A lot of the things that we are doing is about raising awareness to see whether we can get local and central government support to subsidise some of these recycling efforts so that we can use our own waste,” Stones said.
“Ultimately we are reducing landfill on the planet, which is not a bad thing, but we’d like to be doing it at our own backyard.”
Lali Ranvir Singh, President, Supreme Sikh Society of New Zealand, which owns and manages the Gurdwara, said that they could not wait for the official opening of the sports field in March.
“So many local clubs and local schools want to play here. There is a big interest in the community. They really want to see it.”
Vice-President Manjinder Singh agreed.
“This will be very beneficial for our community, the whole community, the players and everyone,” he said.
So far, five schools, sport clubs and community groups have introduced the turf base in New Zealand.
Liu Chen is a Reporter at Radio New Zealand. The above Report and Pictures have been published under a Special Arrangement with www.rnz.co.nz