Announced on May 11th, Amsterdam Schiphol is taking sustainability to the next level by using grass to make its own panels for various building projects at the airport. Used at the airport in ceilings, walls, furniture, and flooring, the grass will come from the airport’s own clippings.
“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.” -Mirjam de Boer, Director of Asset Management at Royal Schiphol Group
A waste-free airport
Apart from facilities at extreme latitudes and those in deserts, airports are typically abundant in grassland, which surrounds vast expanses of runways and taxiways. This grass must be cut regularly to discourage birds from gathering on this land – which in turn decreases the likelihood of bird strikes.
Partnering with ECORⓇ, Schiphol will integrate its own grass clippings into panels used throughout the airport’s construction. The plan will see 100,000 square meters of panels produced annually, using grass clippings as raw material. The airport has around 10 square kilometers of grassland around its runways.
Processing the grass into panels will see it cleaned and pressed without the use of chemicals. Then, “ceilings, partition walls at construction sites, furniture and flooring” will utilize these panels. The airport notes that an added benefit is that the CO2 stored in the grass remains ‘captured,’ as it remains in its solid form.
Testing complete, agreements signed
Although the announcement was made quite recently, Amsterdam Schiphol and ECORⓇ have been collaborating on developing these panels for the last few years now.
Before large-scale production was undertaken, panels were “extensively tested for practical use at the airport,” with the airport saying that they are “certified, fire-resistant and have the same level of quality as the well-known MDF panels.” MDF stands for medium-density fibreboard and is made from wood.
The airport has pledged to purchase the panels made by ECORⓇ, signing a contract with its building contractors working on site. The rest of the panels, however, will be sold to other parties in the region.
Production to take place locally
The airport hopes to make things even more sustainable, with an ambition to have the grass processed “at or near Schiphol,” thereby reducing emissions further.
At this time, however, processing and production will commence this fall at the ECORⓇ factory in Venlo – a Dutch city that sits near the German border. Venlo is a two-hour drive and some 187km away from Amsterdam Schiphol.
With airports worldwide also maintaining large expanses of grass on their properties, this sounds like a fantastic project that could be transplanted elsewhere. Indeed, this work will make use of something that would otherwise decompose or be incinerated offsite.
What do you think of this endeavor? Are there any potential drawbacks to this project? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.