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BASF's eco-efficiency analysis comparing Astroturf® and natural grass athletic fields verified by NSF

FLORHAM PARK, NJ, November 15, 2010 – BASF Corporation has performed an Eco-Efficiency Analysis comparing the environmental and economical impacts of three synthetic turf athletic fields with natural turf grass alternatives.  NSF International, a not-for-profit organization committed to protecting public health and the environment verified the results of the analysis against the NSF Protocol, P352, Validation and Verification of Eco-Efficiency Analyses.  NSF P352 establishes requirements for the content of an eco-efficiency analysis to ensure consistency, objectivity and transparency in all eco-efficiency analyses, which is essential given the increase in greenwashing.

“BASF’s eco-efficiency analysis is a life cycle assessment that evaluates a broad range of environmental impacts during the production, use, and disposal of a product or process in the areas of energy and resource consumption, emissions (air, water, solid waste), toxicity and risk potential, and land use,” said Bruce Uhlman, Senior Sustainability Specialist for BASF’s Environment, Health and Safety Product Regulatory/Stewardship team in North America. “It also evaluates the life cycle costs by calculating the costs related to, at a minimum, materials, labor, manufacturing, waste disposal, and energy.” 

"NSF P352 fulfills the need for an objective and universal method for companies to analyze the sustainability aspects of their products and services," said Pat Davison, NSF International Senior Project Manager.  “Developed and approved by a diverse group of stakeholders from academia, industry and consumer product companies, the NSF protocol serves as a means to demonstrate that an independent, third-party evaluation has been performed to verify environmental performance.”

Specific to this study, the relative performance of each alternative was measured for a defined unit of comparison, which was the ability to support 600 hours of event activity on a standard 75,000 square foot recreational sports field in a residential community over a 20-year time frame.  The three synthetic turf alternatives achieved the desired hours of availability using one field, including AstroTurf's PureGrass® nylon synthetic turf, their GameDay Grass™ MT41 a polyethylene synthetic turf, and their GameDay Grass™ 3D 52, a hybrid blend of nylon/polyethylene synthetic turf.  The six natural turf grass alternatives differed in their annual hours of field availability, which varied from 600 hours down to 150 hours.  Presenting the natural turf grass results over a broad range considered the high degree of variability experienced with natural turf grass availabilities due to factors such as regional climate variations, the intensity and type of event activities supported and the quality of maintenance and care.

Upon completion of this year long study, Bryan Peeples, President of AstroTurf stated, "We are proud to be associated with this study, which from our perspective was long overdue since AstroTurf created the industry in 1964.  The results will enable us to clearly articulate the good sustainability story behind synthetic turf and help us continually improve the environmental performance of our product. This effort is consistent with other proactive efforts we have in this area, such as the comprehensive safety and performance studies ongoing at the Center for Safer Athletic Fields at the University of Tennessee.   Results from these efforts will help us provide safer and more cost effective products and services to the public while also reducing impacts to the environment.”

Eco-Efficiency Analysis Results
The following overview of the Eco-Efficiency Analysis study by impact category demonstrates the breadth and complexity of the task of comparison and nature of the study results.  To learn more about the specifics of BASF's eco-efficiency analysis you can visit www.basf.com/sustainability. Results fall under two broad categories:  Environmental Impact Results and Economic
Cost Results.

Environmental Impact Results
1. Primary Energy Consumption.  PureGrass® nylon synthetic turf had the lowest energy consumption of the synthetic turf fields mostly because it had the highest durability of any of the synthetic turf fields and did not require infill.  A natural turf grass field would need to support more than 400 hours of events/year to achieve a lower energy consumption than PureGrass® turf. 

2. Raw Material Consumption.  All three synthetic alternatives consumed lower amounts of resources than any of the natural grass alternatives.  In fact, the best performing natural turf grass alternative consumed about twice the amount of resources than any of the synthetic fields.

3. Air Emissions – Overall.  When all the air emission categories were considered together (Greenhouse gases (GHG), Photochemical Ozone Creation Potential (POCP), Ozone Depletion (ODP) and Acidification Potential (AP), the natural turf grass field alternatives, which can support more than 430 hours of activity/year, performed the most effectively.  The synthetic turf fields generally performed better as a group than the natural turf grass fields, which supported less than 300 hrs/year of events. Individual components, which had significant impact on air emissions, included the infill, base and yarn materials for the synthetic turf fields and the transportation and maintenance activities associated with the natural turf grass fields. 

4. Water Emissions.  Natural turf grass fields supporting a range of 300 to 600 hours of activity per year had the lowest water emissions impact.  All of the synthetic alternatives performed better than turf grass, which supported less than 200 hours of event activity/year. Overall, water emissions contributed less than 2 percent to the total environmental impact.

5. Solid Waste Generation.  The two GameDay Grass™ synthetic turf alternatives generated significantly less municipal solid waste equivalents than any of the other alternatives considered because of its ability to divert a significant amount of tires from landfills and incorporate them into infill. For PureGrass® turf, which does not require infill, the largest contributor to solid waste generation was the end of life disposal of the materials that could not be recycled. 

6. Land Use.  When considering the impacts to the land, all three synthetic turf fields had lower impacts than all of the natural turf grass alternatives.

7. Toxicity Potential.  Toxicity potential is a particularly complex measure that requires close examination of the full analysis [www.nsf.org/business/eco_efficiency].  The final results show that the natural turf grass field, which can support 600-hours of activity/year, had the lowest impact.  Natural turf grass fields, which support less than 400 hours of event activity/year, had a higher human health impact than the three synthetic turf fields.  

8. Risk Potential.  Risk potential is also an exceptionally complex, multi-component measure that requires closer examination of the full analysis.  This category considered impacts related to occupational illnesses and diseases, heat stress, risk of injuries and accidents, and risks related to the maintenance and care for each alternative.  Synthetic turf fields displayed a higher overall risk potential in this category than the natural turf grass fields. When all the alternatives were considered, PureGrass®, GameDay Grass™ MT41 and the GameDay Grass™ 3D 52 synthetic turf alternatives performed well in all the main environmental categories except the risk potential category. The overall environmental performance of the natural turf grass fields was highly dependent upon its availability to hold events.  In order to have an equivalent overall environmental impact as the synthetic field fields, the natural turf field would need to achieve an availability of 420 hours/year or greater. 

Life Cycle Cost Results
Life cycle costs accounting for the installation, maintenance and disposal of all the alternatives considered were converted to a common cost metric for athletic fields: cost per event (an event was considered to be any continuous three hour event). The range for the synthetic fields analyzed in this study was on average $380 per event. The midpoint results for the natural turf grass alternatives considered reflects a reasonable availability for turf grass (300 to 360 hours of activity per year) and averages around  $440 per event, almost 15 percent higher than for the synthetic turf fields.

BASF’s eco-efficiency analysis is an award-winning and strategic tool, based on the ISO 14040 standard for lifecycle analysis, which quantifies the sustainability of products or processes. It is a comparison of two or more products analyzed from the end use perspective.  BASF’s eco-efficiency analysis tool was developed in 1996 and to date, more than 400 eco-efficiency studies have been completed globally for customers, suppliers and regulatory agencies.

“Eco-efficiency analysis is a comprehensive and quantitative tool that effectively takes a large amount of environmental and cost data and presents it in a way that supports strategic decision making and facilitates clear communication of complex information,” said Uhlman. “This analysis will support transparency and informed, science based decision making between alternatives for athletic fields.”

AstroTurf
For many athletes and sport enthusiasts, the AstroTurf brand has redefined the way the game is played. The company offers advanced, state-of-the-art, multi-sport and specialized synthetic turf systems with proprietary engineered technologies, leveraging the industry’s only vertically integrated manufacturing system. A growing number of high schools, colleges, professional sports teams and municipalities continue to select AstroTurf-branded products for their premium quality, technical superiority and safety. Recent innovations from AstroTurf include GameDay Grass™ 3D turf with RootZone® system, a polyethylene/nylon hybrid system which most closely replicates natural grass; TurfAide® coating, a non-chemical antimicrobial shield protecting against MRSA and other infectious bacteria; and AstroFlect™ Technology which significantly reduces turf surface temperatures. Visit our website at http://www.astroturf.com/.

NSF International
NSF International, an independent, not-for-profit organization, certifies products and writes standards for food, water and consumer goods to minimize adverse health effects and protect the environment (www.nsf.org). Founded in 1944, NSF is committed to protecting public health and safety worldwide and operates in more than 120 countries. NSF is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Food and Water Safety and Indoor Environment.

NSF Engineering and Research Services (ERS) utilizes all of NSF's capabilities to accommodate the vast array of customers' testing needs. Clients can attain technical information by employing ERS to complete research and development testing, validate manufacturers' claims, or to obtain additional certifications against NSF and non-NSF protocols.

Additional NSF services include NSF Education and Training programs, safety audits for the food and water industries, nutritional/dietary supplement certification and management systems registrations through NSF International Strategic Registrations, Ltd.

BASF - The Chemical Company.

BASF Corporation, headquartered in Florham Park, New Jersey, is the North American affiliate of BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany. BASF has approximately 16,000 employees in North America, and had sales of $13 billion in 2009. For more information about BASF’s North American operations, or to sign up to receive news releases by e-mail, visit www.basf.us.

BASF is the world’s leading chemical company: The Chemical Company. Its portfolio ranges from chemicals, plastics and performance products to agricultural products, fine chemicals and oil and gas. As a reliable partner, BASF creates chemistry to help its customers in virtually all industries to be more successful. With its high-value products and intelligent solutions, BASF plays an important role in finding answers to global challenges, such as climate protection, energy efficiency, nutrition and mobility. BASF posted sales of more than €50 billion in 2009 and had approximately 105,000 employees as of the end of the year. Further information on BASF is available on the Internet at www.basf.com.

Astroturf®, PureGrass®,, GameDay Grass™ MT41 and the GameDay Grass™ 3D 52 are trademarks of Astroturf


For more information, contact:
Kathy Dennis
BASF Corporation
Tel: (973) 245-6288
E-mail: Kathy.dennis@basf.com


 
 
     
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