Ecor is producing the panels, which will be used at the airport for ceilings, partition walls at construction sites, furniture and flooring.
"In view of safety, we regularly cut the grass at Schiphol to make it unattractive to birds, “ said Mirjam de Boer, director of asset management at Royal Schiphol Group. “All the grass that would go to waste now gets a second life by serving as raw material. This is fully in line with our ambition to be a waste-free airport in 2030. We aim to be fully circular in 2050.”
Schiphol has about one thousand hectares of grassland around its runways and will now be supplying Ecor with grass cuttings to be used as the raw material for new products. An added benefit of this recycling is that the CO2 stored in the grass will not be released, said the airport. During processing, the grass is cleaned and pressed without the use of chemicals.
Schiphol and Ecor have been collaborating on the development of these panels over the last few years. Before starting large-scale production, the panels were extensively tested for practical use at the airport. They are certified, fire-resistant and have the same level of quality as MDF panels.
Schiphol has pledged to purchase some of the products made and their use has been guaranteed in the contract Schiphol has with the Dutch construction companies it works with. The rest of the panels will be sold to other parties in the region.
“The goal is to supply more grass over time, because not all grass at Schiphol currently goes to Ecor,” said de Boer. “The production of sustainable products can then be stepped up. Our ambition is to process the grass at or near Schiphol, so that production can also take place close to the airport and emissions can be reduced even further. In the meanwhile - starting in autumn - the processing and production will be done at the Ecor factory in Venlo.”
Navied Tavakolly, circular economy business developer at Ecor and project manager, said: “Schiphol proved to be a pioneer in drawing up a circular business case. By linking the supply of grass to the production and purchase of panels, both organisations can further scale up their circular model. We named the panel that we developed 'Ecor Greenfields Alloy' - a reference to the untold potential of green grass, the airfields and the capacity to innovate and (re)develop.”