Recycled or reused? Destination of old artificial turf uncertain | Local News

BEVERLY – City officials say the artificial turf being replaced at Beverly High School will be reused or recycled, but the company carrying out the work is not disclosing details of that plan.

The disposal of old artificial turf has become a growing environmental concern as communities across the country replace their original turf fields, which have a useful life of eight to ten years. According to a 2017 report by the Synthetic Turf Council, an average field has 40,000 pounds of plastic carpet and 400,000 pounds of filler material like tire crumb and sand.

As of Wednesday, several hundred rolls of Beverly High School’s old turf were lying next to the pitch and in the parking lot while the new turf was being installed. Act Global, the Texas-based company hired by the city to do the job, didn’t return any messages asking how the old material will be disposed of.

Mayor Mike Cahill said the company told him that all of the material would be reused or recycled in some way. The company will try to sell the used turf for use in batting cages and mini golf courses, as well as the filler material for making plastic wood, Cahill said.

Cahill said there was no obligation in Act Global’s contract with the city for the company to state where the material was going and how it would be used.

“We believe we are dealing with a legitimate company and they assured us that,” said Cahill.

Cahill said he will speak to company officials again and seek further assurances that the material will be reused or recycled.

“These are certainly relevant topics,” he said.

According to a 2019 study by the non-profit news organization FairWarning, used artificial turf – which contains multiple layers of material like plastic grass, sand, and crumbs of rubber from ground tires – is difficult to recycle and often ends up in landfills.

In a letter to the Oaks Bluff Planning Board last October regarding a proposed turf field for Martha’s Vineyard, Amanda Farber of the Safe Healthy Playing Fields volunteer advocacy group listed several cases of companies telling communities that they would recycle or reuse old turf, but never provided evidence.

“The industry often vaguely refers to products made from recycled turf, but has provided little evidence of those products in a transparent manner or on a workable and workable scale,” the letter reads.

Farber said in the letter that there were no closed facilities for recycling artificial turf in the United States at the time. She said the lawn is often “dumped, burned, dumped or stored”.

Act Global is not required by law to recycle or reuse the material or provide written notification of how it will handle it. The contract between the city and the company only provides that demolished material becomes the property of the contractor and is removed from the construction site “at the discretion of the contractor and in compliance with all applicable disposal regulations”.

A spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection said the state has no specific regulations on the disposal of artificial turf. The materials, like any other waste material, must be disposed of or recycled in accordance with waste disposal regulations, spokesman Ed Coletta said in an email.

Act Global, headquartered in Texas with offices in the Netherlands and Cyprus, describes itself as “the world’s leading manufacturer of artificial turf”. Its website says the company is committed to sustainability and environmental stewardship, saying that using artificial turf saves water, eliminates the need for pesticides and reduces pollution from maintenance equipment and mowers. The website doesn’t say how the company dumps old turf, however.

Beverly was one of the first North Shore parishes to add an artificial turf field to the high school in 2011. Officials said the turf field requires less maintenance and allows more use in any weather.

In February, Cahill asked the city council to approve spending of $ 750,000 on replacing the field because its useful life was running out. Act Global bid $ 642,085 on the contract, the lowest bid the city received.

Emma Basso, the treasurer of Ward 2 civic association, said she raised the issue of artificial turf disposal months ago at a meeting of the association when she learned that the city was getting a new field. Basso said the city should hold Act Global responsible for where the material ends up.

“You are driving sustainability in the city,” she said. “If there is no accountability to dispose of it ethically, why are we using this company?”

Mike Collins, the city’s public works and engineering officer, said the new field should be ready when the high school sports teams start training in the fall in August.

Author Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535, email pleighton@salemnews.com, or Twitter @heardinbeverly.

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