0 A real future for 'processed sand'


By Andy Dawe

Over the last few weeks, a series of events and comments from key industry figures have established that sand derived from recycled glass, or "processed sand" as it is becoming known, has the potential to be a real winner for all concerned.

WRAP (the Waste and Resources Action Programme) has been working with the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) since 2002 to assess the performance of this exciting new product, and the sports turf industry is beginning to show a keen interest.

Dissemination event - STRI, Bingley
In July, a dissemination seminar was held at the main STRI office in Bingley, presenting delegates with the key findings of the trials. The event, jointly hosted by WRAP and STRI, was well supported and drew in representatives from a number of major suppliers, the Greenkeepers Training Committee, the English Golf Union, BIGGA and the European Institute of Golf Course Architects.

The processed sand was tested in the laboratory for use in bunker sand and top dressing applications and also against USGA specifications for rootzone construction. Delegates heard that in each case the material was found to fall within accepted parameters for sand in use on golf courses. This was followed by a tour of the trial sites, established in the STRI grounds, which provoked a great deal of interest and comment.

As STRI's Project Manager, Dr. Andy Owen said: "We were extremely encouraged by the positive response we had during the site tour, particularly in the bunker trial areas. Not only were the audience impressed by the quality of the material, they also raised no objections in terms of colour or possible Health & Safety concerns."

A number of key features of processed sand were identified during this highly successful seminar, and these can be summarised as follows:
* It outperforms natural sand in bunkers, providing firmer underfoot conditions, less plugging of the ball on impact and is able to rest at a slightly steeper angle, all largely due to its natural angularity.
* This angularity, although greater than many conventional sands, poses no specific danger to users, Greenkeepers or their equipment.
* Its natural green colour can be advantageous. For example, local planners are now keen for bunkers to blend in with the landscape more readily - WRAP is sponsoring further trials to establish the potential for blending natural and processed sand in bunkers.
* Similarly, it can be used to camouflage divot repairs and to aid with tee construction.
* It is also suitable for rootzone construction, provided that a suitable regime is in place to monitor and manage pH levels.

At the conclusion of the event, Andy Dawe, WRAP's Material Sector Manager for Glass said: "The signs for processed sand are very good; it is clearly a product that works. This event also shows that Greenkeepers are keen to include it as part of their increasing commitment towards environmental awareness and responsibility."

Even better news is that WRAP is continuing to fund trials with STRI, and initial results in blending natural and processed sand are highly promising - look out for further details on the WRAP website over the coming months.

PGA Seniors Championship at De Vere Carden Park
In August, WRAP was able to showcase the development of processed sand at the longest running event on the PGA European Seniors Tour, held at the De Vere Carden Park.

Golf Courses and Estates Manager at Carden Park, and Chairman of BIGGA, Andy Campbell commented: "The processed sand is excellent and the feedback from golfers has been very positive with the reports back saying that it played just as well as traditional sand. On the maintenance side, I believe that it is perfect as a divot repair material"

Andy Dawe of WRAP was equally pleased: "Demonstrating the product in action to golfers is obviously a vital factor in getting processed sand accepted, and the success of this event fits the bill exactly", he said.

WRAP is now keen to use this as a springboard to further highlight the potential for processed sand in this sector. Once again, some interesting points emerged from the event at Carden Park:
* Divot repairs have been identified as an excellent way to gain early market penetration - current prices for a 'ready-made' product vary between £4 and £5 per 25kg bag, or £160 to £200 per tonne.
* Potential also exists to use processed sand as a top dressing for artificial tees.

What next?
There is no doubt that the golf industry is ready to adopt environmentally friendly solutions to the problems of course management. Greenkeeper organisations such as BIGGA and the GTC have already asked WRAP to present at forthcoming education forums.

Recent articles in industry magazines have also detected a growing scarcity of the coarser grades of natural sand. This presents an obvious opportunity for processed sand which, by definition, can be graded to any particle size required. As Andy Owen of the STRI was quick to point out: "One of the main drivers behind our original application for WRAP funding was the rate at which natural sand is being consumed, and the need to find alternatives. It comes as no surprise to me to find that others are reaching similar conclusions."


Jacks Guinness, Materials Project Officer (Glass and Paper)
Office: 01295 819904
E-mail: jacks.guinness@wrap.org.uk.

Pat Jennings, Media Relations Manager - Trade & Environmental
Office: 01295 819928
E-mail: pat.jennings@wrap.org.uk.


1. WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) is a major UK programme established to promote resource efficiency. Its particular focus is on creating stable and efficient markets for recycled materials and products and removing the barriers to waste minimisation, re-use and recycling.

2. A not-for-profit company in the private sector, WRAP is backed by substantial Government funding from DEFRA, DTI and the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

3. WRAP has laid down targets across twelve programmes. Nine are focused on market development, and comprise six material streams (Paper, Plastics, Glass, Wood, Organics and Aggregates) and three generic areas (Business & Finance, Procurement, and Regional Market Development). Three new programmes relate to the wider resource efficiency remit - Collections, Communications and Awareness, and Waste Minimisation.

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