Re-Match to Build Innovative Synthetic Turf Recycling Facility in the Netherlands

Green light for sustainable cleantech plant that will reduce plastic fiber waste

Re-Match recycling

The Danish sustainable startup Re-Match will build a new state-of-the-art synthetic turf recycling facility in Tiel, the Netherlands. The plant is expected to create jobs for 35 full-time employees.

Once the cleantech facility is fully operational, it will provide the capacity to recycle more than 2 million square meters of synthetic turf pitch per year (280 full pitches) from the Netherlands and Belgium. In plastic fiber alone, this saves the environment from pollution equivalent to 400 million plastic bags.

‘The Netherlands is the country with the most square meters of artificial turf per inhabitant in the world. We are delighted to be able to offer the Netherlands a truly sustainable solution for recycling the worn-out turf,’ said Re-Match CEO Nikolaj Magne Larsen. ‘We are looking forward to being able to offer the smartest approach for recycling in the Netherlands.’

Sustainable patented cleantech process

The Re-Match patented recycling process reduces, cleans and separates worn artificial grass and infill without adding water and chemicals into clean, original raw materials: sand, rubber, backing and synthetic fiber. Although there are waste processors who can separate the sand and the rubber, the challenge (both technical and environmental) lies in separating the backing and the plastic fibers. These materials are the main causes of CO2 emissions. Separating these materials provides significant environmental benefits, as a synthetic turf football pitch contains an amount of synthetic turf fiber that is comparable to 1.4 million plastic bags.

The new plant had to meet the Dutch government’s zero nitrogen emission requirement. ‘This is a huge challenge,’ said COO Stefaan Florquin. ‘That’s what we do at Re-Match. Pushing the boundaries of environmental technologies while contributing to the maximum reduction of nitrogen and the minimum use of fossil fuels. The last step towards establishing as a local synthetic turf recycler in the Netherlands has been successfully completed now that the environmental permit has also been approved.’

EU Green Deal subsidy for circular recycling approach

While the sand and rubber from the recycling process are used to fill in new fields, the synthetic fiber has been used for other products until now. With a subsidy of 2.5 million euros from the EU Green Deal, Re-Match and its project partners are developing a process for the production of new yarns from recycled turf. These yarns can then be used for the production of new synthetic turf pitches, thus closing the cycle.

‘Our mission is to make synthetic turf fully circular, which means that the plastic fiber is also used for the production of new synthetic turf pitches,’ says Magne Larsen.

The factory in Tiel will be a state-of-the-art, digitized facility that will serve as a blueprint for other new recycling plants that Re-Match plans to build in Europe and North America.

Central location in Europe close to customers

The Tiel factory location is at the center of the country, close to main highways and the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal and only 45 kilometers from Germany. This makes it an efficient location in terms of transport.

The factory site was found in collaboration with the East Netherlands Development Agency (Oost NL), part of the Invest in Holland network. Bart van ’t Ende, Tech Project Manager at Oost NL, traveled to Denmark back in 2019 to get to know the company. ‘Re-Match has a unique circular solution for a problem that is also in demand in the Netherlands and Belgium. Together with the company, we looked for the best location, also with a view to nitrogen emissions. The choice ultimately fell on Tiel. We are proud that the company is settling in the east of the Netherlands.’

Sources: Re-Match and Oost NL (Both Dutch)

6 May 2021

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