Just One Word... Bioplastics?

In the 1967 film The Graduate, "Plastics" was seen, and rightfully so, as the economic opportunity of the future. Could this now be replaced with "Bioplastics"? Alan Berry, National Sales Manager of the XT-1 Golf Tee's and E-Stake/T-Stake products thinks so. He's not only carrying Biodegradable Tee's, but Sod Pins too! So I figured he could help us all understand these types of products better.

Turfhugger - Why make a biodegradable sod pin? What are the benefits over non-biodegradable options?
Alan Berry – We look at any re-vegetation of a given environment as a system. The object is to grow vegetation using all natural products when possible. When vegetation is well established and can protect the soil from erosion, the stake has done its job and can become part of the earth through a natural biodegrading process. Our E-Stake is used to secure turf/sod and also is commonly used to secure erosion control blankets (ECB’s) which are made from biodegradable materials (straw, coconut and excelsior based). As the vegetation grows through the ECB’s and establishes a vegetative slope, the E-Stake can then biodegrade because it is no longer needed. Future maintenance and safety are the two key benefits to use a biodegradable stake. Because the E-Stake will biodegrade, the landscaping crew will never be required to return and remove the stakes as is required in some specifications. When metal or wooden stakes are used, a mower blade could dislodge them and send them in any direction, creating a safety issue to property and people. Often the ground is too hard for stake to be pushed all of the way down into the soil which makes it easier for a mower blade to hit a metal pin. Sometimes the top of the metal pin rusts away, leaving a sharp edge protruding from the soil which is dangerous to foot traffic. If for some reason, the E-Stake is hit by a mower blade, it shatters the plastic and does not sling it out of the mower for any great distance.

Turfhugger - Why still use a polystyrene product if the biodegradable material is an option?
Alan Berry – Some applications for stakes have design lives greater that 24 months. A couple of examples are bunker liners for golf courses and long term erosion control needs. Golf courses want to use a stake that holds the bunker liner in place and will last for many years. Also, for long term erosion control blanket application, commonly referred to as ‘turf reinforcement mats’ or TRM’s, the landscape designer requires that the system be in place for extended time frames (up to 50 years). Using a stake which is made from high impact polystyrene will not rust like metal pins and will meet the long term requirements as long as the product is not subjected to ultraviolet light.

Turfhugger - How can I be assured that the bio plastic product I'm purchasing will actually degrade at normal soil temperatures? Is there a certification I should be looking for?
Alan Berry - There is an American Standard Testing Method, ASTM E6400, that we certify to meeting. The European equivalent to ASTM E6400 is EN 13432. I have never seen any other tee or sod stake claim that they have been tested and pass these critical tests.

Turfhugger - What is the cost ratio between the T-Stake and the E-Stake?
Alan Berry – The process of creating a bio-plastic is far more involve than other polymers. The bio-plastic has to be ‘grown’ through a process of feeding corn sugars to microbes that have been bio-engineered to produce a unique natural plastic. This process is time consuming and expensive and is reflected in the price of the resin which is commonly five to six times that of common petroleum based polymers. The bio-plastics we use will biodegrade at normal soil temperatures. Most other ‘biodegradable plastics’ on the market may degrade, but at much elevated temperatures, similarly to that you would find in a composting environment. It was important to us to use a material that is truly biodegradable which would return to the earth in a natural way.

Turfhugger - Where does the corn come from?
Alan Berry - The corn that is used to create the bio-plastic resin is grown in the United States.

Turfhugger - Where are the products manufactured?
Alan Berry – We manufacture the biodegradable E-Stake and the permanent T-Stake in Massachusetts and we produce our Biodegradable XT-1 Golf Tee in Iowa.

Turfhugger - Are biodegradable plastics the future of the golf industry?
Alan Berry – I believe that we are on the path to making a golf course as ‘green’ as possible and biodegradable plastics are certain to play a key role in that journey.

Here, here! I couldn't agree with you more Alan.
I particularly like the E-Stake for my clients because it's grown and manufactured in North America and I don't see what would be environmentally friendly about a product grown in the US but then shipped to China for processing and then back to the US for consumers.

Check out the XT-1 Golf Tee and the E-Stake/T-Stake websites for more info.


i agree that bioplastics are the future of our industry, we will see them used in the outter shell of mowing equipment, carts and even consumer products.
great interview mr. morrison

i think i saw these tees in golftown

I can appreciate the biodegradable function of the E-Stake, our mowers are always finding artifacts from historical projects. LOL. When I start thinking of the opportunity for this material in our works shop, it's pretty much endless. I've seen biodegradable divot pins before, a product that would seem crazy if it were made of steel.

The New ROCKET LAUNCHER Mach II golf tee and practice mat by divotEND improves your golfing ability (really), protects fairways & Tee Boxes, supports Club's bottom lines AND is biodegradable. When purchasing new equipment clubs should consider the 'triple bottom line': People, Planet and Profit. divotEND's products are not made in china but Forged in Scotland.