Times are changing, and the same is true for the sports flooring industry. This also creates new challenges for Sales. Reason enough for us to have a conversation with Polytan’s Heads of Sales, Fred van Wijk (EMEA) and Peter Herbig (DACH).
Gentlemen, a general question to start: What is the future of synthetic sports floors?
Peter Herbig: The future is green. Sustainability will also play an increasingly important role in our industry. We
always need to take that into account. But we are pioneers in our industry and can provide the right answers.
Fred van Wijk: Environmental protection is a major subject, but we must not forget the athlete when developing our products.
How do you want to achieve this?
Peter Herbig: We are on the right path. Our LigaTurf GTzero is the first CO2-neutral synthetic turf. Our Green
Technology campaign is a clear indication that we are tackling the issue in a holistic manner.
Fred van Wijk: We master the entire value chain. We research and develop our products ourselves, we produce them and we install them. We can take care of the system and recycle it on request. We are ahead of
the competition in this respect. Even the laboratories which test and certify our products do not know their
composition. When I joined Polytan eight years ago, I often wondered why the products were so durable
and high-quality. Now I know why. We know the products better than anyone else.
Peter Herbig: That is true. We possess the expertise, the drive and a unique value chain. That makes us strong and is why we have a lead on the issues ahead. Our new products are the best proof of this. Polytan products are often copied but never equalled.
Fred van Wijk: Our qualitative standards are extremely high, as are the demands we place on ourselves.
The granulate, which is used as a component in synthetic turf systems, is under discussion. The European Chemicals Agency is currently investigating whether artificially introduced microplastics should be banned. This also includes the rubber granules on synthetic turf pitches. What is your opinion?
Fred van Wijk: The discussion is only happening with this level of intensity in Germany. Germany is at
the forefront of sustainability with its construction methods. Low turf height so that significantly fewer infill granules are required: This could be a role model for other countries.
Peter Herbig: In Germany, the discussion, which was mainly fueled by an incomprehensible study by the Fraunhofer Institute (note from the editorial office: the Fraunhofer Institute has now admitted that the figures in
the study are not sustainable for Germany), has meant that surfaces with rubber granules as infill are no longer being funded. We can, however, offer alternatives such as sand and cork. Customers accept that.
Fred van Wijk: 95 percent of customers are municipalities and cities. They finance the systems. Politicians ultimately decide on the construction of a synthetic turf pitch in such cases. Environmental responsibility plays an important role for them. More and more demands are being placed on environmental aspects in tenders.
Polytan is a German company with a great reputation throughout Europe. With our expertise in advising our customers, we offer real added value.
In Germany in particular, there have been an increasing number of voices in recent months that have spoken out against synthetic turf in favour of natural turf. Your opinion?
Peter Herbig: Quite simply: Particularly in metropolitan areas, synthetic turf is the only way to maintain playing surfaces. Synthetic turf can be played on all year round, even in winter or when there is a drought in summer.
It is clear to everyone involved that the required hours of play, especially in metropolitan areas, can only be achieved with synthetic turf pitches.
Fred van Wijk: In addition, playing hours on synthetic turf pitches are cheaper than on natural grass.
Sustainability is a major trend in sports flooring. Are there any others?
Fred van Wijk: Yes, sport is moving to cities. Space is scarce, which is why you need robust floors that can
be used for sports. Teams are getting smaller, sport is becoming more spontaneous. Five-a-side football,
hockey5s, which has now even made it to the Tokyo Olympics as a demonstration competition, and other
multifunctional facilities: For me, these are clear trendsetters.
Peter Herbig: The big trend in Germany is sustainability. This affects all sports, and therefore all products
which we can provide. In terms of products, I see great potential in mini-pitches. Covered, small fields open to
the side such as the Mac arenas we are building with a partner are also trending.
Fred van Wijk: One of Polytan’s strengths is the early recognition of trends. We understand what the market wants and can react quickly.
Peter Herbig: Fred, I agree 100 % with you. We have the expertise from A to Z in all of our products and services, enabling us to respond optimally to the wishes of our customers.