SPORTFIX®CLEAN - System for filtering microplastic from artificial turf
1. Microplastics in artificial turf
250 to 300 kg: This is the amount of microplastic that is discharged every year from a modern artificial turf pitch. Currently, several tons of microplastics are released into our environment through the use of artificial grass - provided the particles have not been filtered out and retained beforehand.
1.1 Reasons for using artificial turf pitches
More and more artificial turf is being used in sports field construction all over the world, because the synthetic surfaces
- are robust and weather-resistant
- require less maintenance
- do not require fertilisation or irrigation
- offer high quality standards for the safety of the athletes, very good ball rolling behavior and
- enable a long usage period of 1,700 hours per year (compared to 400 - 800 hours for natural grass) and a service life of at least ten years.
1.2 The problem: plastic granulate & synthetic blades of grass end up in the environment
The demand for artificial turf surfaces in the sports sector is constantly increasing due to the great advantages. In order to prevent the environmentally harmful effects of microplastic deposits from artificial turf surfaces to a large extent, the deposits of...
- plastic/rubber granulate (also called infill material) used for the filling must be avoided.
- the synthetic grass fibres, which break off during play because they are exposed to recurring stresses, should also be retained
Through precipitation, drifts, maintenance measures or simply due to the use by the athletes, microplastic particles of granulate and blades of grass finally reach the environment in fragments.
Research from the last years have already proven that macroplastic parts and plastic garbage produce dangerous garbage vortices and/or gigantic garbage carpets in the oceans. This poses a great danger to fish and other marine life which ultimately end up on our plates and in the food cycle. The number of microplastic particles in our tap water and mineral water is also increasing and we are already absorbing them every day. The consequences for health are not foreseeable on the basis of current knowledge. Here you can find out more about the microplastic cycle.
2. Standard construction of artificial turf pitches and alternatives without microplastics
2.1 The construction of infilled artificial turf for football and rugby sports fields
A distinction is made between two different types of artificial turf pitches: unfilled artificial turf and filled artificial turf, which is used in most cases. Most artificial turf pitches consist of several layers: Drainage, with an elastic layer on top, followed by long synthetic fibres stabilised by a rubber granulate filling. This special rubber granulate provides the necessary cushioning and the desired playing characteristics on the turf. Due to wind, rain runoff and mechanical abrasion during high tread loads during sports activities - especially football and rugby - tiny particles are released. Relevant quantities of plastic blades of grass also break off, which are further worn out during play. Over the course of a year, this results in a discharge quantity of 250 to 300 kg of microplastic per pitch which is released into the environment unfiltered.
If you have ever played sports on an artificial turf pitch, you certainly know the problem: the small plastic particles collect themselves in sportswear and shoes. Taking into account all relevant aspects (ingredients, recyclability and discharge behaviour of microplastics), microplastic deposits from an artificial turf can be significantly reduced through the use of filter solutions.
2.2 Artificial turf alternatives without microplastics
If alternative materials were used to fill the artificial turf, pollution could be avoided. Some artificial turf systems are mainly filled with natural materials such as quartz sand, cork and lime and only small parts with plastic granulate. Consequently, less harmful infill material is used - but this is not a 100% solution without microplastic. Even if alternative filling materials or unfilled artificial turf are used, the problem of blade wear remains. In addition, with these alternatives there is often the risk of possible mould formation due to the use of organic natural substances in a permanently damp environment. An additional issue with these alternatives is the risk of mould formation due to the use of organic natural substances in a permanently moist environment. There is also an increased risk of mechanical wear and tear, as well as poorer playability due to ice formation in winter.
3. SPORTFIX®CLEAN filter system: surface filtration retains the smallest microplastic particles
HAURATON has a safe and effective solution for the filtration and retention of microplastic particles: In the drainage system and channel filter SPORTFIX CLEAN, particles as small as 0.45 µm (0.00045 mm) are reliably filtered out by the filter substrate Carbotec 60. The filter substrate consists of natural, inorganic components. The use of SPORTFIX CLEAN is an important measure to reduce microplastics in waters, oceans and the environment. With rule-compliant dimensioning, retention capacities of over 95 % are achieved.
The system consists of the SPORTFIX CLEAN filter channel. In addition to the filter substrate channel surrounding the edge of the playing field, further products for collecting the microplastic particles can be installed.
SPORTFIX CLEAN works according to the principle of surface filtration: not only the smallest plastic particles (>0.45µm ) are retained on the filter surface, but also pollutants contained in the precipitation water (mineral substances such as sand and clay particles and organic components such as leaves, pollen and grasses). In addition, pollutants such as heavy metals or hydrocarbons and mineral oil hydrocarbons are filtered out. In relation to the surface runoff with rule-compliant dimensioning, a cleansing performance of over 98% is achieved.
3.1 Filter substrate channel SPORTFIX®CLEAN for rainwater treatment of artificial turf pitches
Two proven systems are combined: SPORTFIX PRO with GUGI recycled composite gratings and the DRAINFIX CLEAN filter substrate channel. The recycled composite grating reduces the risk of injury to athletes.
The most important functions of SPORTFIX CLEAN are:
- Safe linear drainage surrounding the artificial turf surface
- Large filter surface for the absorption of particle loads (10 m² per 100 m of channel run, depending on the construction of the sports field the filter surface adds up to 30 - 40 m²)
- Continuous retention and filtering of particulate pollutants
- High remobilisation protection of particles trapped in the system
- The first federal states (e.g. Baden-Württemberg) have announced state subsidies for artificial turf sports fields with channel filters
Not only surface water that flows off the playing field and is contaminated with microplastic, but also larger microplastic parts that are transported to the edge of the field during play are reliably detected along the pitch. The water is collected, filtered and drained off in the channel run.
93 % of rainfall (rule-compliant design) is intercepted via the SPORTFIX CLEAN drainage channel. The remaining 7 % is discharged via a collection and overflow shaft in the trash box. In the trash box there is a special particle trap bucket which is lined with geotextile. This also cleans the water that enters the trash box unfiltered in the event of heavy rainfall.
The system also works during heavy rain events and runs dry naturally. This means that the channel filter is not permanently filled with an accumulation of water, thus preventing the residue of pollutants and germs. The water purified by SPORTFIX CLEAN can be used to irrigate playing fields or green areas, therefore saving valuable drinking water.
3.2 1st Place for SPORTFIX®CLEAN | Environmental Technology Award 2019
HAURATON has won the Environmental Technology Award Baden-Württemberg 2019 in the category Emission Reduction, Treatment & Separation with the filter channel SPORTFIX CLEAN.
"As a specialist in drainage systems, it is important for us to contribute to a clean environment and to promote research and development. The award is a great pleasure and encourages us to pursue further ideas for new environmental technologies", says HAURATON Managing Director Marcus Reuter.
3.3 SPORTFIX®CLEAN particle trap element for microplastic carried by athletes
Part of the granulate and the broken plastic fibres get stuck on the clothes and shoes of the athletes. The SPORTFIX CLEAN particle trap element was specially developed for this purpose: Ideally, it is installed at the player's exit where it collects and retains microplastic from the shoes and clothing. This also means that less microplastic gets into changing rooms and washing machines.
3.4 SPORTFIX®CLEAN snow trap channel collects and filters melted snow
Artificial turf can also be used in winter. When clearing snow, however, the microplastic discharge is considerable and is dramatically visible as black deposits on the snow.
There is usually a snow collection point for the snow removed from the site. In order to collect the plastic particles carried out during snow clearing when the piles of snow melt, this area is equipped with the SPORTFIX CLEAN snow trap channel. This collects and filters the melted snow with the microplastic particles (granulate and broken blades of grass). The amount of microplastic that can be collected in a single place is tremendous. The size of the collection point can easily be adapted to the local snow conditions.
4. Benefits for operators and clubs with artificial turf pitches
4.1 Low additional costs and long maintenance intervals as security for operators and clubs
Since the filtration system is combined with the linear drainage, it results in only minor additional costs. The HAURATON filter system SPORTFIX CLEAN along the artificial turf pitch costs approx. 25,000 euros. In addition, there are costs for the installation which can also be paid for by the clubs themselves.
The system is proven to work reliably over long periods of time. The maintenance intervals are far apart and cleaning the filter is simple: after many years of use, a so-called filter cake forms on the filter surface. This is peeled off every three to five years during maintenance and only the removed filter substrate is refilled.
4.2 Application areas of the system
Whether football, hockey or rugby pitch - where artificial turf sports facilities are used all over the world, drainage systems are usually also required. Not only surface water running off the pitch and contaminated with microplastic, but also microplastic parts transported by abrasion and wind are safely collected along the pitch. The water is collected and drained off in the channel run. The HAURATON filter system can also be retrofitted in existing systems.
Fabian Reuter, the idea generator and initiator of the product range, emphasises: "This guarantees long-term investment security for operators. Even if the artificial turf surface is replaced, the channel filter system can be maintained and reused regardless of the type of artificial turf used."