The European Commission’s decision to restrict the use of microplastics is expected to impact the infill used in synthetic turf systems
The use of recycled rubber and plastic as infill for artificial turf systems may well be affected by recommendations from the European Commission (EC) to introduce restrictions for the placement of intentionally added microplastics.
Published last week, the EC Recommendations on Restrictions on the European Market of Intentionally Added Microplastics (Annex XVII REACH1) recommends a ban on the future sale of microplastic filler (most often tire fragments at the end of life) for synthetic turf systems, as the most effective way to reduce microplastic emissions.
The EC proposes a transition period of six years at the point of sale before the new restriction takes effect.
The EC findings follow research published earlier this year which for the first time detected microplastic pollution in human blood, with scientists from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands finding the tiny particles in almost 80% of those tested.
Although the impact of microplastic pollution on the health of the body is still unknown, researchers are concerned that microplastics damage human cells in the laboratory and air pollution particles are already entering the body and causing millions premature deaths per year.
Although any EC legislation will only apply to its member countries in Europe, it is expected to have an impact on the use of recycled rubber and plastic as filler in synthetic surfacing for sports and playgrounds around the world. entire.
In response to the recommendation, the European Artificial Turf Council published a position paper identifying the risks and opportunities of the proposed ban.
Noting its agreement “with the objectives… (to) reduce emissions of intentionally added microplastics within the framework of the broader European Green Deal for climate neutrality by 2050”, the ESTC (the EMEA Synthetic Turf Council) underlines its work with many stakeholders (including International Sports Federations) to help develop the CEN 175193 Technical Report for Infill Control and Mitigation.
Commenting on the EC’s six-year transition period before the new restriction comes into effect, he notes that “current surfaces are expected to be usable for at least 10 years and many existing fields may struggle to reach their duration. life due to an inability to purchase the materials needed for routine maintenance, forcing communities, schools and sports clubs to prematurely replace their surfaces or risk deterioration in the quality and safety of their grounds .
“The ESTC therefore calls for the transition period to be extended to at least 10 years to allow those who have recently invested in new areas to achieve the full operational life they anticipated.”
The ESTC goes on to point out that “the proposed legislation does not require any retroactive action to be taken in the current areas and this is also welcomed by the ESTC as it would have been a significant burden on facility owners and operators. The ESTC however encourages everyone to ensure that their fields are managed and maintained responsibly so that they do not allow infill to migrate into the environment, including adopting the guidelines outlined in the CEN Technical Report 17519 for all new drapes that will use microplastic infills during the transition phase.
“Banning intentionally added microplastics will not change the benefits of turf systems for the millions of people who enjoy them every year. Synthetic turf pitches provide high-quality, durable surfaces that empower communities across Europe to benefit from the health, social inclusion and mental well-being benefits that sport and physical activity provide in a wide range of different climates.”
He also points out that “this decision will be a challenge for the majority of European markets where fillings classified as microplastics have proven to be the most popular. of the European Commission resulting in very promising alternative solutions, the industry will find it difficult in all markets to make a complete transition in the proposed six-year period.
“This further reinforces the request to extend the transition period to at least 10 years to allow for a more controlled transition.”
Click here to view the ESTC position paper.
Click here to view the EC recommendation.
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March 10, 2022 – ACT Government single-use plastics ban extended to include Manuka Oval and GIO Stadium
October 22, 2021 – NSW Government publishes report on the use of synthetic turf in community sport
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December 9, 2016 – ASTM International Standard for Artificial Turf Infill
8 December 2016 – Multi-purpose synthetic pitch opens at Greater Shepparton Sports Precinct
May 1, 2015 – Synthetic Sports Surface Seminars to Cover Australia
April 16, 2015 – New guidelines on the supply and use of synthetic sports surfaces
March 4, 2015 – Sports surface consultant backs European safety standard for infill
September 23, 2014 – European Synthetic Turf Organization recommends shock absorbing pads for synthetic sports pitches
May 13, 2014 – Guide to synthetic sports surfaces distributed to municipalities and sports organizations
November 6, 2013 – Tuff Turf commissions the University of Ballarat to assess the safety of recycled rubber in sports surfaces
August 2, 2013 – Regupol makes it easy to specify everroll rubber flooring
January 24, 2012 – FieldTurf responds on the safety of rubber infills
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