Mowing the way ahead: Schiphol Airport to use structural panels made from its own grass

The Netherlands’ Schiphol Airport is to send grass cut on its approximately one thousand hectares to panel maker Ecor to make ceiling panels, partition walls, furniture and flooring for use at the airport and elsewhere.

The airport said the supply will allow Ecor to make 100,000 square metres of construction materials a year. 

The two parties have been testing the panels for several years. Schiphol said they are certified, fire-resistant and have the same level of quality as MDF panels.

"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."

The airport said CO2 stored in the grass will not be released as the grass is cleaned and pressed without using chemicals.

Schiphol has pledged to buy some of the grass panels, with their use stipulated in contracts with Dutch construction companies.

Mirjam de Boer said not all the airport’s clippings would go to Ecor when production starts in the autumn, but that supply would be progressively stepped up.

Eventually it wants production to take place next to the airport to curb transport emissions.

Ecor’s Circular Economy Business Developer, Navied Tavakolly, 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."

Image: Schiphol has around a thousand hectares of grassed lands around its runways (Maarten Visser/CC BY-SA 2.0)

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