Soy, a versatile and sustainable crop, is impacting the world of sports and athletics. Explore the use of soy-based materials in sports equipment, artificial turf, and footwear, offering high-performance, eco-friendly solutions that promote sustainability.

Soy, a versatile and sustainable crop, has emerged as a game-changer in the world of sports and athletics. From improving player performance to reducing environmental impact, soy helps transform the way we design and manufacture sports equipment.

And, as the demand for sustainability grows, sports brands and organizations are turning to soy as a solution that not only enhances athletic performance but also aligns with our collective responsibility to protect the planet.

Soy in Turf

Playgrounds and even rooftop recreational fields, are now embracing soy-based solutions. SYNLawn artificial grass incorporates the innovative EnviroLoc Plus™ Backing System, an exclusive backing made with soy-based materials. This advanced multi-layer component system “locks” in the resilient turf fibers, extending the lifespan of the turf. By incorporating soybean oil and displacing 60 percent of petroleum-based polyurethane, EnviroLoc Plus™ enables fields to reduce their reliance on foreign resources and contribute to a more sustainable future.

The grass itself is fully recyclable, manufactured in the United States, and promotes water conservation. Whether it’s used in golf courses, rooftop viewing areas or parks, SYNLawn’s soy-based solutions offer a sustainable and cost-effective alternative to traditional petroleum-based backings. They also help minimize maintenance requirements, eliminate the need for watering, mowing and weeding, and reduce weather-related cancellations.

So where can you find soy-based turf today? In 2018, the 7.5-acre Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis opened its doors. Deemed the world’s largest children’s museum, the new immersive learning experience allowed children and their families to learn as they participate in sports activities inspired by some of history’s greatest athletes. Anchoring over 60,000 square feet of miniaturized world-famous golf greens, football, baseball and soccer mini fields are approximately 18 tons of technologically advanced artificial turf made by SYNLawn and backed by soy.

The results of incorporating biobased SYNLawn were a sustainable success. Compared to natural grass, the museum’s use of soy-backed turf saved approximately 840,000 gallons of water annually, equivalent to 46 average-sized swimming pools. Furthermore, environmentally friendly SYNLawn eliminates the need for mowing, resulting in the avoidance of releasing the equivalent of 168 hours of car exhaust into the atmosphere.

Soy in Tennis Shoes

High performance on the field starts with finding comfort in your footwear.  In 2011, Skechers partnered with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company to create a soy-based sneaker collection and since then, have developed 122 different styles made with soybean oil technology, including Skechers GOrun.  Initially, Goodyear’s research, supported by U.S. Soy, revealed that soybean oil could enhance tire flexibility in cold temperatures, allowing the rubber to maintain its pliability and improving traction on wet and snowy surfaces. Skechers adopted this technology in their outsoles, resulting in heightened grip, stability and durability.

The same soybean oil that improved tire flexibility across temperatures and enhanced traction in rainy and snowy weather conditions did the same thing with shoes, as demonstrated by Goodyear’s and U.S. Soy’s research. The incorporation of soy-based rubber technology, known as “Goodyear Performance Outsoles,” ensures that athletes of all ages and genders have access to sustainable footwear options, including trail, work and safety shoes.

Soy in Sports Equipment

Soy’s influence doesn’t stop there—it even finds its way into the world of paintball. RAP4 Ecofriendly Field Paintballs incorporate soybean oil as a partial replacement for polyethylene glycol, a step taken to safeguard the environment.

Additionally, soy has made notable contributions to saddle technology in horseback riding. Impact Gel, a non-toxic material derived from soybeans, effectively dissipates the force of impact and pressure points associated with saddle fit inconsistencies. This use of soy provides both riders and horses with enhanced comfort and support during equestrian activities.

Beyond its traditional role in food, soy is a sustainable solution for various sports materials, from turf to tennis shoes to sports equipment. By using soy-based materials, the sports industry can not only reduce its environmental impact but also provide consumers with durable, high-performance products.

Ready to get active with soy-based sports products? Check out our Soy Products page to explore the sustainable options available and be a part of the movement towards a more eco-friendly future of sports.