As the next generation of young soccer whizzes in South Africa breathlessly out-dribble opponents and score mesmerizing free kicks, many of those future Cristiano Ronaldos might already be showcasing those tricks on a pitch made of potato chip bags.
Chips company Lay’s is making inroads into its impact goals by, well, putting up goals. In a project that combines environmental sustainability with community youth engagement, the salty-snack giant is partnering with its longtime Champions League partner, UEFA, and grassroots soccer organization Streetfootballworld to provide the world’s first five soccer fields made out of potato chip bags.
For the project, known as RePlay, Lay’s has committed to using an innovative new bags-to-turf technology to create playable fields. “[It’s] giving our chips packaging a second life,” says Sebnem Erim, global food brands VP for PepsiCo, which owns Lay’s. The process, developed with artificial fields manufacturer Greenfields, takes empty chip bags from local waste and recycling, then washes and shreds them, and mixes them with rubber to convert them into pellets. Those pellets form a layer, called the “Ecocept,” on the ground, on top of which an artificial turf is placed. The fields, which cost about $200,000 to $250,000 to build, are estimated to have a life span of about 10 years—after which the turf and Ecocept layers are both fully recyclable.