has released the results of an exhaustive study aimed at comparing the environmental and economic impact of synthetic turf fields in comparison to natural grass fields. While the study is aimed at playing fields, it could have implications for the use of synthetic grass in residential applications.
This study is a first-of-its-kind eco-efficiency analysis conducted over 18 months and verified by NSF International, a non-profit, non-governmental organization.
The BASF Eco-Efficiency Analysis (EEA) measured life cycle environmental impacts and life cycle costs for
AstroTurf systems and natural grass sports fields. The study evaluated the environmental impact of the production, use, and disposal of each system in the areas of energy and resource consumption, emissions, toxicity and risk potential, and land use. The EEA also evaluated the life cycle costs by calculating costs related to materials, labor, manufacturing, waste disposal, and energy.
BASF’s eco-efficiency analysis is tool based on the ISO 14040 standard for life cycle analysis, which quantifies the sustainability of products or processes. It is a comprehensive comparison of two or more products analyzed from the end-use perspective. The tool was developed in 1996 and, to date, more than 400 eco-efficiency studies have been completed globally for customers, suppliers, and regulatory agencies.
The report compared natural grass playing surfaces to various synthetic playing surfaces manufactured by AstroTurf
Among the major findings of the study were the average life cycle costs over 20 years of a natural grass field are 15% higher than the synthetic AstroTurf alternatives, even when factoring in a replacement synthetic turf field during that time.
As for environmental impact, AstroTurf fields compared similarly to natural grass fields capable of only half the availability per year.
Moreover, in terms of consumption of raw materials, even the best natural grass alternatives use about twice the amount of resources as AstroTurf fields.
The EEA found that overall air emissions in the categories of acidification, photochemical ozone creation potential , ozone depletion, and greenhouse gasses, were fewer in AstroTurf surfaces than in natural grass fields which supported less than 300 hours (100 events) per year of events.
Synthetic turf fields such as those produced by AstroTurf generate the least amount of solid waste overall, with grass fields sometimes accounting for over four times as much. Land use impact was significantly less with AstroTurf fields.
In terms of risk potential, synthetic fields displayed a higher overall potential for risk, but BASF emphasizes that this category is an exceptionally complex, multi-component measure that requires closer examination of the full analysis.
Toxicity potential shows that natural grass fields which support less than 400 hours (130 events) per year can have a higher human health impact than any of the AstroTurf fields.
Ultimately, the study shows that synthetic turf alternatives, even factoring in a replacement field, have significantly reduced environmental impact and life cycle costs compared to natural grass fields over a 20-year period. For more information about the study, contact BASF.