SAPCA Award Finalists in Focus: Polytan's Eco-friendly, Super-fast Hockey Pitch

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The 2018 SAPCA Awards attracted a record number of entries, with a total of 17 contenders named as finalists for the prestigious honour. From those, a panel of judges chose David Morley Architects as the overall winner of the prize for the company’s work on the Sports Hub at University of Warwick.

Among the finalists was synthetic sports surfaces specialist, which was recognised for its new eco-friendly Poligras Tokyo GT hockey surface.


Polytan is the official Global Supplier to the International Hockey Federation (FIH) and the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. To support Tokyo’s goal of organising the first ever carbon-neutral Olympic Games, Polytan worked with its partner Braskem to develop the Poligras Tokyo GT system.

The new surface has been designed to provide an elite playing environment with a focus on being environmentally friendly – the “GT” in the name stands for Green Technology. It is the first-ever synthetic turf which features filaments made from more than 60 per cent regrowable raw materials.

A key eco-friendly element is the use of I’m green polyethylene, which is obtained from ethanol derived from sugar cane. Polytan chose the product because the raw material captures carbon dioxide during its growth. This means the carbon footprint of I’m green polyethylene has a positive impact compared to fossil polyethylene. For every kg of polyethylene used, almost 5kg of CO2 will be saved, providing a saving of more than 50 tonnes on each hockey field.

Another key part of the system is the Polytan PolyBase GT elastic layer, a new development which adds to the environmental balance. A new binder designed to reduce its CO2 emissions during production is used for the in-situ elastic layer, aiding the performance of the system.

Adding to the eco-friendly production process, there is also an operational benefit – the surface being used at Tokyo will require 66 per cent less water than surfaces used at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The turf is the latest to be launched under The Polytan Green Technology (GT) programme, which executes a new generation of highly developed products that bring together cutting-edge technological expertise from the plastics industry.

Polytans director of product management Friedemann Söll said: “With functional and ecological benefits of natural regrowable raw materials, we are a responsible one-stop supplier.

“We are careful and precise with our use of resources throughout the products lifecycle – from selecting raw materials to production, Installation and use, right through to disposal and recycling.”


As well as its environmental credentials, Poligras Tokyo GT has been designed to “redefine the speed of hockey”. The ball roll distance on the turf has been improved by around 25 per cent – when compared with Poligras Platinum – which had previously proven its speed capabilities at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

The surface also uses the patented Entanglement technology in the filaments, which means that the even, multidirectional surface remains stable in the long term, and is protected against premature wear.

Meanwhile, Polytan’s CoolPlus technology ensures that the turf stays pleasantly cool even on hot days; pigments incorporated on the surface of the turf fibres effectively reflect the infrared part of solar radiation – which is responsible for heating up the turf – on an ongoing basis.

The combination of these elements means that the Poligras Tokyo GT enables incomparably dynamic and precise play – the surface meets current national and international standards and, when constructed and installed correctly, is able to meet FIH Global Elite certification.

“With the development of the Poligras Tokyo GT, we have succeeded not only in making a hockey pitch more sustainable, but also in significantly improving its performance,” Söll added.

“Never before has a hockey turf been more environmentally friendly, never before has a turf allowed such a dynamic and precise hockey game.”

In Practice

The world’s first installation of the new turf was completed at the Gerd Wellen hockey facility at Crefelder HTC in Krefeld, Germany. The venue regularly hosts elite hockey tournaments, including the German Field Hockey Championships Final Four and FIH Pro League German national team home games.

Club manager Robert Haake said the new surface has made a significant difference.

“Poligras Tokyo GT is currently the best hockey pitch in the world and we are very happy that it was installed for the first time in the world at our facility”, Haake said.

“The darker pitch is not only faster than ever before, but for the first time, the artificial turf fibres consist mainly of a bio-based plastic.”

For more information on Polytan Sports Surfaces (UK) Ltd, please click [here]