03.12.2020

The sports surfaces of the future will be made of recycled rubber obtained from End-of-Life Tyres

For more detailed information on the latest generation of sports surfaces, we spoke to ECOPNEUS, a historical partner of Casali Sport, who had this to say about the importance, from both a technical and environmental point of view, of using recycled SBR rubber for the installation of courts and athletic tracks.

For years, the non-profit consortium Ecopneus, a leading company in the management of End-of-Life Tyres (ELTs) in Italy, has been committed to developing, together with some of the best companies in different fields, sustainable solutions in which the ELT SBR is a high-synergy component. The latest generation of sports floorings, clearly confirm this, given that they are safe and advantageous and ensure excellent performance.

Recycled rubber from End-of-Life Tyres offers outstanding features for sport: optimal elastic response, excellent resistance to the most adverse weather conditions and exceptional shock absorption properties, making this the ideal material for different sports.

But there is more. The use of recycled rubber also offers enormous advantages not only from an environmental point of view, given that it contributes to reducing the consumption of virgin raw materials thanks to the use of a material obtained from the processing of an end-of-life product, but is also economical: on a par of performance and yield, it costs about one tenth of natural rubber while reducing management costs in some cases, thus contributing to the consolidation of a sustainable market for secondary raw materials obtained from ELTs.

Each year Ecopneus collects and recovers approximately 200.000 tons of ELTs that are processed into recycled rubber for many different applications in the fields of sports, infrastructures, furnishings and energy. The sports industry is however the industry that uses the highest quantity, using 32% of the rubber recycled from the Ecopneus supply chain. A precious resource used to manufacture innovative eco sustainable products in many different industries, such as the sports flooring industry.

“Our main activity is the collection, transportation and recycling of End-of-Life Tyres, but we also dedicate considerable resources to developing applications for recycled rubber, and sports surfaces are one of the best examples of this - said Giovanni Corbetta, General Manager of Ecopneus. - These floors come from a combination of scientific research, environmental sustainability and innovation applied to sport. Our commitment to Research and Development has led to an evolution of the materials used, while encouraging the development of new applications and the consolidation of existing applications. In the case of basketball, for example, we worked closely with athletes and experts from the scientific world, industry professionals and specialised flooring companies, thanks to which it was possible to identify and ultimately create the ideal composition for this particular sport”.

The Department of Motor Sciences of Tor Vergata University was asked by UISP and Ecopneus to carry out a study which demonstrated that athletic performance varies according to the characteristics of the flooring. The study identified the phenomena of elastic restitution, sliding and rolling friction of sports surfaces, which have a great impact on human performance. . The tests carried out on the sports floorings included mechanical (fall, rolling and impact to investigate elastic restitution, rolling and sliding friction), physical and physiological (sprint, direction changes, explosive-elastic force) and postural-functional (Drop Jump test) tests. The results of the Drop Jump tests confirmed that the pressures and contact times are greater on recycled rubber flooring than on the other traditional floorings studied. This means that SBR rubber flooring has greater elastic and shock-absorbing properties, thus reducing impact on ankle, knee and hip joints. It is also assumed that these types of sports surfaces can adequately respond to the demand for high muscular performance (in the acute stage of playing) and ensure good shock absorbing properties, with good performance in terms of prolonged endurance to work loads (chronic effect).

The study pointed out that, on a par of athletic performance, floors with SBR rubber decks (prefabricated mats or cast in situ) offer maximum flexibility when designing design sports surfaces, making it possible to improve certain parameters with respect to conventional solutions, above all thanks to the possibility of modulating the thickness of the ELT SBR rubber deck with the external wear and tear layer of the flooring, obtaining technical specifications that satisfy the most diverse athletic requirements both in terms of training and competitions.

Ecopneus strives constantly to promote recycled rubber applications for sports, road infrastructures, the construction industry and many other fields. In sport, the playing surface is fundamental both for the athlete's health and performance, and recycled rubber courts help athletes to give the best of themselves.....for much longer periods, through a solution that also contributes to the success of a company founded on recycling materials.

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