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Guest Blog: Circular11

Guest Blog: Circular11

Recycling World-First as Stadium Grounds Plastic Turned into Outdoor Products

Circular11 has partnered with Wembley Stadium to pioneer a first-of-its-kind recycling pathway that turns synthetic turf into a composite material for outdoor infrastructure.

The project is the latest in a series of closed-loop recycling projects driven by Circular11, a start-up developing manufacturing technology that enables them to turn mixed and low-grade plastics into composite materials and infrastructure for the construction and estates sector.

“Only 25% of plastic gets recycled in the UK,” explained Ben Gibbons, one of the two co-founders of the company, “but its an essential material for thousands of applications. By turning ‘unrecyclable’ plastic directly into composite building materials, we can divert carbon that would have been emitted incinerating it, so that the material prevents more carbon than is used in its production.”
Old pitch material has until now been sent to landfill or incineration, but the two companies are now turning it directly into outdoor products that are being deployed at football clubs across the country.

As far as either company is aware, there is no precedent for the recycling of this hybrid turf structure anywhere in the world. Connor Winter, the second co-founder of Circular11, said: “The full circle pitch has been one of the most technically demanding projects that we’ve worked on to date, not least because of the form and polymer composition of the grass mesh. But it shows the potential for composite technology to work at a larger scale.”

Other circular infrastructure loops created by Circular11 over the past year include a project turning Highways-related construction waste into motorway noise barriers and boundary fencing, and one turning tree guards into deer fencing and outdoor furniture.
When combined with a reverse logistics that ensures end-of-life recycling, and a tracking system that embeds the history of the pitch in each product, this recycling pathway is creating permanent high-value destinations for materials that have never previously had value.

Ben Gibbons explains: “If you want your supply-chain to make an environmental difference, you can ask your suppliers about something called  ‘additionality’, which is the amount recycled over and above what would have been recycled anyway. When your products are made from low-grade plastic, it’s almost entirely additional, which makes the impact easy to measure.”
The company is scaling up its Dorset-based operation to increase the volume of material it can produce and wants to mainstream the use of incineration-bound plastic in outdoor sectors.


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