The Upcycling Process for Playground Surfacing Materials


Tire wasted upcycled into playground surfacing is good for the environment

Whether you’re looking to install a new playground or just update an old product, chances are high that “environmentally friendly” and “safe” are attributes that are on the top of your list. And, rightfully so! It’s important that the product you choose is not harmful to the environment or to the end user.

The use of recycled materials has been common in the playground safety surfacing industry for many years. In fact, most poured-in-place systems are made using rubber – specifically, recycled tires. Although this has a great environmental impact by preventing an overabundance of tires in landfills, the reality is that it is only delaying the process for 10-20 years. In most cases, once that playground needs replaced, the materials would end up in the landfill anyway.

What is Upcycling?

SpectraTurf is proud to take a stand in continuing to support the environment by looking for new ways to provide a solution to an ever-growing problem. We do this by going one step beyond recycling – upcycling. Upcycling is the process of taking a material at the end of its life and converting it into something else instead of throwing it away. In 2019, SpectraTurf started developing a new process of removing old safety surfacing that was already repurposed from tires, and upcycling it for new safety surfacing material. We are very proud to say that we are no longer sending any old surfacing to the landfills – instead, it is all being upcycled for new playgrounds. And the cycle goes on and on.

Our parent-company, Ecore, describes the process like this: “A tire’s main function is to support a vehicle’s weight, provide traction, and absorb shock. When we transform tires into surfacing, we are able to harness those attributes and elevate them so that our surfaces provide MORE. More safety, more ergonomics, and more acoustics for the people interacting with our surfaces every day.” Furthermore, when the same surface can be repurposed AGAIN, we are continuing a cycle of rebirth for these products.

In 2020, SpectraTurf was awarded a grant from CalRecycle Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery through their Tire Incentive Grant Program for this innovative process. The program recognizes companies who are finding new ways to upcycle and reduce waste going to landfills.

Our products are not just sustainable for the environment, but also for the health and well-being of all those that come in contact with them. At SpectraTurf, safety will always be a top priority. Many years ago, it was believed that rubber materials could pose a danger to users. Since then, many studies have shown that recycled rubber poses no health risks. In fact, a thorough third-party, laboratory-testing program ensures all of our products meet the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)’s surfacing standard. We also perform continual testing on all raw materials used in our systems for quality, properties, and strength. We are confident in the safety of our products. For technical data and more information on the specifications of our products, click here.

To learn more about our innovative upcycling process or to find out which of our products is best for your new project, contact us.

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