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2018 Sustainability Award
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2018 Sustainability Award:


In 2017, USGreentech launched its organic infill offering, Safeshell. This product is made from walnut shells, a natural product with a lot of environmental benefits to offer. Black walnuts, which grow wild throughout the Midwest, are collected by hand, taken to nearby collection centers and then transported to a central processing facility in Missouri. There, the walnut meat – the part of the walnut that contains allergens – is extracted for food products, while the shells are collected for industrial uses such as sandblasting and water filtration. To create Safeshell, USGreentech blends the black walnut shells with shells from California-grown English walnuts. When combined, the two create the perfect blend of performance and sustainability for synthetic turf systems. After blending, the residual allergens are removed with a patent-pending and chemical-free process. The shells are ground into one-millimeter rounded pellets, which are installed on top of sand. 

The focus on sustainability in the development of Safeshell starts with taking materials that already exist naturally in the United States, re-purposing those materials without adding any man-made chemicals or additives and finally using the re-purposed material in a way that benefits synthetic turf users. Because of it’s natural composition, Safeshell’s material does not end up in a landfill. It can be used to top off natural grass fields or be disposed of naturally to decompose as it would when found in nature. Because black walnuts grow in the wild, they do not require applied farming, insecticides, pesticides or irrigation. 

Prior to the initiative of Safeshell’s product launch, the majority of synthetic turf fields installed used non-organic infills. While the traditional infill used, crumb rubber, does keep car and truck tires out of the landfill at the end of the life of the tires initially, the material most often ends up in a landfill, delaying the inevitable. As mentioned above, Safeshell has other options for the end of it’s lifecycle and can decompose naturally once removed from a turf application. What’s more, unlike competing organic products from around the world used in the industry, the raw materials used in Safeshell are sourced in the United States, reducing the carbon footprint associated with transporting the materials. The organic infill products on the market prior to Safeshell often required to maintain a specific moisture content. This resulted in customers using irrigation systems to keep their natural products moist. Not only does the use of water on synthetic turf have negative impacts on the environment at a time when droughts are happening in certain climates, but it can also be argued that it is setting the industry back and pushing customers to choose natural grass instead of turf. With Safeshell, it performs the exact same whether wet or dry, and therefore requires zero water or moisture content. 

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