An impressive sustainability concept
Leverkusen is known for the Bayer Group and the closely associated Bundesliga football club Bayer 04, which represents attractive top-level football in Germany. The club remains a full subsidiary of the Bayer Group, for which, as in Wolfsburg, an exception to the 50+1 rule applies. Owing to its continued close association with Bayer AG, the team also refers to itself as the “Werkself” (the “Company Eleven”).
In addition to the men’s and women’s Bundesliga football teams, the club has various youth teams and a veterans’ team. The men’s team has played in the top division continuously since 1979. Its biggest successes so far include its victory in the UEFA Cup 1988, winning the DFB-Pokal in 1993, and reaching the Champions League final in 2002 – and not least, being five-time runners-up in the Bundesliga under coaches Christoph Daum and Klaus Toppmöller. The Bayer 04 women’s team has played in the first Bundesliga non-stop since 2018. Its biggest success so far is its victory in the DFB-Hallenpokal in 2015.
The men play out their matches in the renovated and extended BayArena, which not only has capacity for 30,210 spectators, but guarantees more proximity to the action on the field than almost any other Bundesliga stadium. Also part of the club is the Barmenia performance centre – the first of its kind in Germany. The facility now includes five natural turf pitches and one synthetic turf pitch. It is used for training and matches by the Bundesliga women’s team, as well as the age groups U8 to U15.
Bayer Leverkusen has chosen Polytan for the renovation of the synthetic turf areas at its training grounds. Over 10,000 square metres were fitted with the climate-neutral LigaTurf Cross GT zero. This is the world’s first 100% CO2-neutral football turf, which meets the highest stands, even when subjected to heavy use. Its ecological benefits are based on sustainable, organic PE raw materials, sourced from sugar cane. The turf system, which is filled purely with environmentally friendly cork, is completely free from rubber granules. As well as being made of biobased raw materials, LigaTurf Cross GT zero is produced in Grefrath, North-Rhine Westphalia, using 100% green electricity.
In awarding the contract, Bayer 04 Leverkusen was swayed by more than just the surface, which combines environmental friendliness with sustainability, without compromising on durability and functional properties. The club was also impressed by the overall sustainability concept that Polytan had to offer in Leverkusen. This also included the professional removal of the old LigaTurf RS+ synthetic turf. After over 12 years and eight successful FIFA recertifications, it will now be replaced by its successor and recycled in an environmentally friendly manner in nearby Essen by FormaTurf, another subsidiary of the Sport Group Holding. The state-of-the-art facility is able to recycle up to 100% of a worn-out synthetic turf. During the recycling process, both the turf backing and filaments, as well as the infill, are fed back into the closed-loop material cycle. Lastly, FormaTurf processes the turf carpet and rubber granules into new plastic products.
The new Polytan LigaTurf Cross GT zero will in particular offer young talent at Bayer 04 Leverkusen optimal training opportunities on their path to becoming professional footballers. At the same time, it is a flagship project for Leverkusen and the entire region, as it shows that ecology and sustainability can be achieved using synthetic turf, without the need for rubber granules, which have been the subject of recent criticism. In addition, the surface aligns perfectly with the corporate club’s goals to make football sustainable and thus fit for the future.