A multifunctional artificial turf field that hardly leaves a CO2 footprint, stores water, delivers consistent shock absorption, and where the artificial turf carpet will yield money when removed. RKVV Dommelen has the most modern artificial turf football field in the world and they, as well as the municipality, are proud of that.
The new field for football club RKVV Dommelen from Valkenswaard, the Netherlands, is a Grass2grass artificial turf top-layer on Turfpanel shock-absorbing panels.
The club in the south of the country is sandwiched between two Natura 2000 areas, which demands that any infrastructure project will be delivered with as limited CO2 emissions as possible to protect the nearby nature reserves. Turfpanels offer the perfect solution. “They are placed manually and hardly require the surface to be worked. As they are made of recycled plastic, they cannot freeze. At the same time, they can process even the heaviest peak showers. For the Turfpanels to be effective, we only have to remove the top 5 cm of the soil to level the surface instead of replacing 50 cm of soil, which is the norm. As we move 90% less, we save considerable transport movements and therefore also CO2 emissions,” says Arnoud Fiolet on behalf of the RSI SPORTS GROUP. The fewer truck movements also guaranteed safety in the child-rich suburbs near the cub.
The turf panels are produced in Belgium. “As the factory is just over the border, we also had short supply lines.” The panels are made from post-consumer recycled plastic, thereby helping to reduce the mountain of waste. “They are incredibly strong and will hardly wear or lose their shock absorbing performance. That performance remains almost constant for decades. Therefore, Turfpanels can be used despite multiple artificial turf renovations. And even when the field is removed indefinitely, you can easily lift turf panels and use them elsewhere.”
At RKVV Dommelen, the panels were installed on a non-water-permeable canvas. “The panels are designed to drain water both vertically and horizontally. The draining capacity of the Turfpanels exceeds the heaviest rainfall currently predicted by meteorological researchers for the future due to climate change.” This makes the panels particularly popular for use in smaller projects or projects with a limited budget because they achieve significant savings in the groundwork without compromising their draining performance.
Most sustainable artificial grass
The artificial turf top-layer is also special. “The entire artificial turf top layer is made of polyester. This has the advantage that, once the field is renovated, you can simply lift up the carpet and send it off to a processer. You don’t have to separate the polyethylene yarns from the polypropylene backing or glue. As polyester retains its characteristics, a reclaimed artificial turf sports surface from polyester can be used to produce a similar quality artificial turf product.” This is unique and cannot be rivalled by polyethylene or polypropylene. Both PE and PP tend to lose their dynamic performance once heated. Neither raw material is capable of reproducing a similar quality in another production process, hence such artificial turf carpets can therefore only be down-cycled to lower-grade products.
Its contribution to reduce the problem of end-of-life turf saw Grass2Grass in 2020 being awarded the “most innovative artificial turf product” trophy by the Dutch Government.
The production of Grass2Grass ultimately requires fewer raw materials. “Polyethylene or polypropylene may be cheaper, but polyester allows for the continual production of high-quality products. The deposit principle on our PET bottles is a good example of how value polyester is. Given the growing demand for high-quality raw materials, and, at the same time, the desire to reduce our extraction of new raw materials, RKVV Dommelen will likely be paid money for their turf instead of paying for the removal of the worn carpet by the time it will have to renovate the surface.”
Everyone is welcome
The new field has converted a piece of wasteland to extra field capacity for RKVV Dommelen and allows the club to facilitate more training sessions. Initially, it had the ambition to invest in a panna cage but it now has slightly over a quarter of a football field extra. “This investment allows us as a club to underline the importance of sports and playing football in particular. We deliberated over it for several years so that even more children can come and play football. In addition, we have also expanded our capacity to allow us to still host training sessions, irrespective of the weather conditions.” If it is up to the chairman, the new field will also benefit non-members keen on exercising or playing sports. “We hope that in the future, schools and other sports clubs will find their way to our field,” he proudly states. The short-pile carpet with mineral infill is also suitable for activities such as rugby, korfball or hockey. And children wouldn’t be children if their imagination would result in the development of a new sports thanks to the new surface.
The ambitions by RKVV Dommelen please the municipality of Valkenswaard. “It is fantastic that there is cooperation between the clubs and that they seek to have others benefiting from their facility. The municipality wholeheartedly encourages this collaboration,” a spokesperson for the municipality says. “The municipality is pleased to see that clubs take responsibility for keeping their club attractive to residents. Big compliment to RKVV Dommelen for making its members and others very happy with this beautiful investment.” The fact that Grass2Grass and Turf Panels, both products from the RSI SPORTS GROUP were also conceived and developed in Valkenswaard makes the municipality extra proud. “It’s great to see how innovative Valkenswaard is and how much effort is being made to achieve a future in which sustainability plays an important role. We are very proud of this Valkenswaard initiative,” the spokesperson concludes.