25 March 2024
by Sarah Morgan

Wembley Stadium recycles pitch

Wembley Stadium in London UK, has developed a process that will reportedly make its pitch 100% recyclable.

Wembley Stadium © Photo by Mitch Rosen on Unsplash

It is the result of a two-year project to find a suitable solution to recycling modern-day football pitches, which are a hybrid of grass and synthetic plastic.

The project is being billed as a first in the world of football.

A large amount of professional playing surfaces in today's football games contain plastic to make them more durable.

Hybrid pitches reportedly offer increased reliability in variable weather and can be used for multiple purposes, yet their recycling has been a challenge.

The majority of old pitches are sent to waste landfill sites at the end of their lifecycle.

The team at Wembley Stadium have come up with a process that means the plastic can be extracted from the pitch and repurposed.

They have created a bench, made entirely out of plastic from a pitch that saw the performance of players such as Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka and Mary Earps.

The team says it has already recycled large elements of the pitch (rootzone and sand) back into grassroots pitches and wants to expand these outcomes.

They are working with recycling specialists Circular 11 to find a suitable solution.

Wembley Stadium now hopes the process will pave the way for other stadiums across the UK and Europe to become more sustainable.

The stadium team estimates that around 50 benches could be created from one pitch, with scope to develop the recycled plastic into other uses within grassroots football.

The prototype bench will be placed within the stadium footprint in memory of a stadium employee who passed away last year.

Karl Standley, Grounds Manager at Wembley Stadium, says, ‘Extracting the plastic from a hybrid pitch is notoriously difficult, due to its compound and structure. When we first mooted the idea of recycling it, we were told it couldn’t be done. However, we were determined to find a sustainable answer to the problem.

‘It’s been a long journey, testing and re-testing, but we have finally come up with a solution we are happy with.

‘Creating something from a pitch that has had world-class players perform on it is the ultimate memento. I am excited about what else we can possibly create in the future.’