A new nudge will make soccer players reduce the environmental impact of artificial turf

Natalie Kamra-KregertDigital services and projects, Nudging

Soccer players spread tons of rubber granules in the environment each year. The rubber granules – the round, small rubber pieces in artificial turf – contribute to higher utilization and better playing qualities. But the granules have a negative environmental impact if they spread outside the fields.

Rubber granules that are spread outside artificial turf cause a negative environmental impact.

Players, coaches, and other individuals staying on artificial turf are responsible for most of the rubber granule spreading. The reason is that it sticks to clothes and shoes. The spreading equates to tons of granules each year. But there is a seemingly simple solution to the problem: brushing off clothes and shoes before leaving the field.

In a new collaboration between Nudgd, Anthesis, and RF-SISU Västra Götaland, the spread of rubber granules from artificial turf will be reduced with the help of behavioral design and nudging. The pilot project is financed by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and coordinated by Beställargrupp Konstgräs. Behavior analysis and study design are currently being completed. A scalable nudge is later being produced and tested. The hope is that the pilot project can develop into a larger project.

“If the rubber granules can remain on the field, we avoid damaging sensitive ecosystems. It also leads to less resource consumption and lower expenses for field owners.” – Tim Isaksson, Head of Research, Nudgd.

Soccer players should use brush stations before leaving artificial turf fields. Unfortunately, they forget quite often and miss brushing their shoes. This is where a method like nudging can help change the behavior.

On many artificial turf fields, those responsible have taken physical measures to reduce the spread of rubber granules. Fenced fields, granule traps in stormwater wells, and brush stations are examples of such actions. The problem with brushing stations is that they are not used very often. The purpose of the project is therefore to get more soccer players to brush off their clothes and shoes before leaving the field.

If rubber granules end up in watercourses, it releases microplastics and damages sensitive ecosystems through environmentally toxic chemicals. It is therefore important that the fields are managed correctly. Field owners can also save large sums of money if less refilling of rubber granules is needed. With the proper care of artificial turf fields, almost no replenishment is required at all.

Do you want to know more and perhaps do something similar in your club or municipality?

Contact Katharina Paoli Brunat, CEO of Nudgd.

Watch a film (swedish) about the problem from Beställargrupp Konstgräs

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