ESTC comments on the proposed ban on sale of microplastic infill

ESTC identifies risks and opportunities from the proposed ban on the sale of infill materials classified as intentionally added microplastics

ESTC (the EMEA Synthetic Turf Council) notes the publication of the European Commission’s recommendations on the introduction of restrictions for the placing of intentionally added microplastics onto the European market (Annex XVII REACH1).  The Commission’s recommendation is for a ban2 on the future sale of intentionally added microplastic infill (most commonly end of life tyre shred) for synthetic turf systems, as the most effective way to reduce microplastic emissions. The option for derogation via risk management methods (RMMs) has been removed from the proposal as it was not considered viable by the Commission to meet its reduced emissions objectives.

ESTC has adopted environmental care as its core strategy and is involved in multiple projects focused on the environment. ESTC agrees with the goals of the European Commission and ECHA to reduce the emissions of intentionally added microplastics as part of the wider European Green Deal for climate neutrality by 2050. In this light, ESTC worked hard with many stakeholders (including international sports federations) to help develop the CEN Technical Report 175193 for infill control and mitigation. Independent research has shown the efficacy4 of RMMs, but the Commission appears to be concerned about the practicability and enforceability of such methods and has therefore opted for the ban option.

ESTC notes that the European Commission is proposing a six year transition period before the new restriction becomes effective. However, current surfaces are expected to be usable for at least 10 years and many existing fields may struggle to achieve their full-service life due to an inability to purchase the materials required for on-going maintenance, forcing communities, schools and sports clubs to either replace their surfaces prematurely or risk deteriorations in the quality and safety of their fields. ESTC therefore calls for the transition period to be extended to at least 10 years to enable those that have recently invested in new fields to obtain the full operational life they anticipated.

ESTC is pleased to note that the proposed ban will be at the point of sale, putting the responsibility for compliance onto suppliers and installation/maintenance contractors and not field owners, which should simplify the adoption of legislation.
The proposed legislation does not require any retrospective actions to be undertaken to current fields and this is also welcomed by ESTC as this would have been a significant burden on facility owners and operators. ESTC does, however, encourage everyone to ensure their fields are managed and maintained responsibly so they do not allow infill to migrate into the environment including the adoption of the guidance outlined in CEN Technical Report 17519 for all new fields that will use microplastic infills during the transition phase.

The ban of intentionally added microplastic will not change the benefits of turf systems to the millions of people enjoying them each year. Synthetic turf fields offer high quality and long-lasting surfaces that allow communities throughout Europe to benefit from the health, social inclusion and mental wellbeing advantages that sport and physical activity provides in a wide range of different climates.

This decision will be a challenge to the majority of European markets in which infills classified as microplastics have proven to be the most popular. Although a lot of research and development efforts have been taking place in the period leading up to the decision of the European Commission resulting in very promising alternative solutions, the industry will find it challenging in all markets to fully transition within the proposed period of 6 years. This further reinforces the request to extend the transition period to at least 10 years to allow for a more controlled changeover.

ESTC awaits full clarification on the wording of the new restriction as it works its way through the legislative process, and to working with all relevant stakeholders to support the development and implementation of turf systems towards a greener future that can be enjoyed throughout Europe.

Links:
https://echa.europa.eu/documents/10162/05bd96e3-b969-0a7c-c6d0-441182893720
2https://ec.europa.eu/transparency/comitology-register/screen/documents/083921/1/consult?lang=en
3 CEN TR 17519 Guidance on how to minimise infill dispersion into the environment – for a copy, contact your national standards institute
4https://www.estc.info/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Ecoloop-Report-Effectiveness-RMMs.pdf

 

PAH content of infill materials : EU regulation becomes effective today

July last year, the European Union (EU) published Regulation (EU) 2021/1199  controlling the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) content of infill materials. The law becomes effective from today 9th August 2022. This means that all infills made from:

  • rubber or other vulcanized or polymeric material
  • of recycled or virgin origin,
  • or obtained from a natural source,

must not have a total content sum (of the eight specified PAHs) of more than 20 mg/kg.

Additionally, all infill materials places on the market must be marked with a unique identification number of the batch to allow traceability to enable the compliance of the batch to the new regulation to be verified.
Enforcement of new regulation will be undertaken by national authorities in each member state.

Whilst primary responsibility for ensuring compliance with the new law will be with the companies that produce the infill, contractors installing synthetic turf surfaces or replacing infill as part of a maintenance contract can also be considered to be placing the product onto the market (i.e., they are selling it to the field owner) so they also need to ensure the products they offer and use are compliant.

As stated in the new law, infill materials that are currently in use, may remain in place and continue to be used.

Draft German test method to determine microplastics emissions due to wear

The German based Forschungsgesellschaft Landschaftsentwicklung Landschaftsbau e. V.(Landscape Development and Landscaping Research Association) (FLL) have been working with the German synthetic turf industry to develop a test method to assess the potential for synthetic turf fibre yarns to wear and create microplastics. The researchers have published their draft test method and are currently inviting comments on their work. Comments should be submitted in writing to the FLL office (s.kramps@fll.de) by 31 August 2022.

The test method has also been submitted to CEN TC 217 for consideration and inclusion in the new European Standard EN 15330-6 Surfaces for sports areas – Synthetic turf sports surfaces, Part 6: Specification for synthetic turf carpets, that is currently under development. Once the drafting of prEN 15330-6 has been completed, it will be published for public comment following the normal CEN Enquiry protocols. This will give the industry a second chance to review and comment on the draft test method.

2022.05.27 draft test method – reply form

2022.05.27 draft test method

CEN to develop new standard on minimum durability, environmental and toxicological requirements

Recognising the increasing regulatory focus on the environmental and sustainability properties of synthetic turf sports surfaces, the European Standards committee CEN TC 217 WG6 has agreed to develop a new standard to specify minimum durability, environmental and toxicological requirements for tufted, woven, and knitted carpets used in synthetic turf sports surfaces. It is envisaged this new standard will be applicable to all forms of synthetic turf sports surfaces, including those used outdoors and indoors as either single sport or multi-sports areas.

It is hoped that the need for new legal regulations will be reduced or eliminated by the development of this standard. It will form part of a series including:

EN 15330-1 – Surfaces for sports areas – Synthetic turf sports surfaces Part 1 sports performance and player welfare requirements

EN 15330-4 – Surfaces for sports areas – Synthetic turf sports surfaces Part 4 requirements for shockpads

EN 15330-5 – Surfaces for sports areas – Synthetic turf sports surfaces Part 5 requirements for infill materials used within synthetic turf and textile sports surfaces

EN 15330 parts 4 and 5 are currently under development by CEN TC 217 WG6. The existing EN 15330-1 will be updated to reflect the changes being proposed.

It is envisaged that this new standard will become a very important document for the synthetic turf industry. ESTC will continue to be actively involved in its development, but individual members are encouraged to participate via their national standards organisations. Development of the new standard will commence in early Decemeber. It is hoped it will be published by the end of 2024 latest.

ESTC publishes guide on end of life synthetic turf

Upon the initiative of the ESTC End of Life Working Group, a new guidance document relating to End Of Life solutions for the synthetic turf industry has been created. As the demand and need to dispose of end of life synthetic turf surfaces in an environmentally-sensitive way grows, ESTC members are making major investments in new technologies that are allowing the surfaces to be reprocessed in an environmentally-sustainable way for the first time. Recognising and wishing to encourage these developments, ESTC has produced this guide to assist everyone involved with the end of life disposal of synthetic turf sports fields. It highlights current options and best practice and gives an overview on the legal obligations that need to be considered before a surface is disposed of.

To download the document, click here.

ESTC organises webinar on how to deal with end of life turf

Today there are over 35,000 full size synthetic turf fields and many thousands of synthetic turf smaller community areas, tennis courts, etc.  That means that in the next 10 years or so over 245 million square meters of synthetic turf will reach its end of life. At the time these facilities were built end-of-life disposal was not a major consideration for many. As environmental awareness grows, the need to dispose of these surfaces in a sustainable way is becoming ever more important.

ESTC members are making major investments in new technologies that are allowing the surfaces to be reprocessed in an environmentally sustainable way for the first time. Recognising and wishing to encourage these developments ESTC has produced a Guide to assist everyone involved with the end-of-life disposal of synthetic turf sports fields. It highlights current options and best practice and gives an overview on the legal obligations that need to be considered before a surface is disposed of.

Apart from giving a full review of this End of Life Guide, we have invited an expert panel of speakers that will address a number of hot topics related to the end of life disposal of synthetic turf systems.

Panel of industry experts 

  • Paul Fraser (Fieldturf Tarkett)
  • Alastair Cox (ESTC / FIH)
  • Stefaan Florquin (Re-Match)
  • Don Lauritsen (GBN)
  • Alejandro Navazas (EuRIC)
  • Eric O’Donnell (Sports Labs)

Session Moderator : Eric O’Donnell, chair of the ESTC Task Force End of Life

For details and registration, click here : https://www.estc.info/event/webinar-end-of-life/

 

Colin Young named 2020 Personality of the synthetic turf industry

ESTC members vote for individual who has made a positive difference to ESTC and the industry

Colin Young of the TenCate Grass Group is the winner of the inaugural ESTC Personality Award,voted for by members of the ESTC. The ESTC Personality Award recognises an individual who has made a positive difference to ESTC and the synthetic turf industry.

Colin Young has been in the synthetic turf industry since 2010, when he joined sports flooring testing company Labosport before he moved on to TenCate Grass Group in 2018, where he is the present Research and Development Director for Turf Systems. He is heavily involved in the development and improvement of the synthetic turf industry at large and takes a keen interest in improving synthetic turf for the benefit of the environment and the industry. Apart from being a board member and Vice-Chair of the EMEA Synthetic Turf Council (ESTC), he is actively involved in the PEF CR project, a programme initiated by the European Commission which aims to establish an official life-cycle assessment. In addition, Young chairs the Non-filled Working Group at the FIFA Technical Advisory Group.

ESTC Director General, Stefan Diderich, is full of praise. “We are very pleased with having Colin Young setting the bar for the ESTC Personality Award. With hundreds of people working on improving synthetic turf every day, it is important to recognise those taking the lead or making extraordinary sacrifices. Colin is an enthusiastic, driven and passionate advocate of synthetic turf and an instigator of ESTC’s environmental agenda. As he has been voted for by his peers, the recognition will certainly have a special meaning to him. More importantly, it shows how the synthetic turf industry joins him in embracing environmental focus and the roadmap he helps to shape.”

The winner was announced during the virtual annual ESTC congress, which took place on April 20.

Why ECHA has asked for a supplementary opinion

The European Chemical Agency (ECHA) has requested its Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) to prepare a supplementary opinion on the restriction dossier on intentionally added microplastics with regards to polymeric infill used in third-generation synthetic turf fields. We would like to share some background and context as to why this request was made.

Since the delivery of RAC’s opinion in June 2020, new research and information has emerged that show that infill dispersion can be reduced to as little as 2g/m2. This is well below the 7g/m2 threshold that had been proposed by RAC’s sister committee, the Socio-Economic Analysis Committee (SEAC). ECHA is now granting RAC the opportunity to revise its opinion on this new information that was submitted during the 60-day external consultation of the SEAC opinion.

Key to the new information is the study by independent Swedish environmental consultancy company Ecoloop, as well as the latest technical report by the European Standards Committee (CEN). Both documents received significant input from ESTC and  ESTC members.

Ecoloop views a synthetic turf field as a controlled environment and has calculated that infill migration can be prevented  by up to 97% when implementing measures proposed in the CEN Technical Report 17519 (Surfaces for sports areas – Synthetic turf sports facilities – Guidance on how to minimize infill dispersion into the Environment).

The 10 steps we need to embrace

ESTC has defined ten steps to control the movement of infill:

  1. Select turf systems with low splash ratings;
  2. Fit all fields with physical barriers to retain the infill within the footprint of the field;
  3. Install catchment grates at all entrances to a field;
  4. Provide boot-cleaning stations at the main player entrance to a field;
  5. Add a filter bucket offering primary filtration (removing the heavier silt) and a secondary fine micro-filter that captures any remaining small particles to all groundwater drainage in the vicinity of a field, a zone that needs to be controlled;
  6. Provide paved snow storage areas (with suitable drainage) for fields in regions where heavy snowfall is anticipated;
  7. Use dedicated maintenance equipment stored at the field;
  8. Clean any machine or equipment that leaves the field, inside the field perimeter;
  9. Adhere to good practices when installing a synthetic turf field;
  10. Lift, wrap and recycle end-of-life synthetic turf;

Download the poster ‘Synthetic turf infill control’

How much will each step achieve?

When all 10 steps are implemented, infill dispersion can be reduced by 97% to approximately 2g/m2. The table below shows how the various Risk Management Measures (RMMs) can each contribute to this result:

Sports governing bodies like FIFA, World Rugby, FIH, Rugby Football League and the Gaelic Athletics Association have already adopted the recommendations from CEN TR17519 and have incorporated these into their guidance/requirements documentation.

As the RAC opinion lacked evidence to conclude whether Risk Management Measures capable of achieving the stated minimum effectiveness of annual losses of <7g/m2 actually existed, ECHA has now asked RAC to conclude whether the Ecoloop study by Magnusson & Mácsik indicates that an appropriate combination of RMM can reduce infill releases into the environment to 2g/m2.

In addition, in its final opinion, RAC expressed concerns about the practicality and enforceability of RMM in the absence of appropriate international/European standards, or guidance indicating which RMM should be used, and how, in order to curb releases. ECHA now asks RAC to conclude whether the publication of CEN TR 17519 addresses this concern.

It is against this background that ECHA decided to formally consult RAC on the new information which ESTC helped to generate, and to invite the Risk Assessment Committee to supplement their opinion before ECHA shares its final draft commission proposal to the EU.

FIH releases new Hockey Turf & Field Standards for 2021

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) is pleased to announce that the FIH Quality Programme – which is designed to ensure good quality hockey facilities are built for all levels of play, from elite level competition to community development – has released the latest updates to its Hockey Turf & Field Standards for 11-a-side fields and HOCKEY5s courts.

The documents define the standards and qualities that FIH Approved Hockey Turfs, fields and courts need to satisfy, outlining crucial elements such as construction, sports performance, player welfare, layout and durability requirements as well as environmental considerations.

An important part of this update, which replaces the 2017 edition and is effective immediately, sees the creation of a new system of classification for products and fields, a move intended to provide greater clarity to the intended uses of the different products available, from community sports fields all the way through to very highest level of international, televised hockey.

The update also provides a clear separation between the Hockey Turf and Field categories. The various Hockey Turf designations range from Global through to Community 3G Multi-Sport surfaces, while the Field designations are now from Category 1 (Venues designed to host international Tier 1 televised hockey) to Category 5 (Multi-sports fields primarily intended for large ball sports, but also used for school and foundation level hockey).

All new fields requiring FIH certification from June 2021 should be designed and tested in accordance with the standards contained within the updated documents.

To see the updated Hockey Turf & Field Standards document, click here.

The publication of the new standards coincides with an updated facilities section on the FIH website, that contain new facilities and field guidance, together with details of all the members of the FIH Quality Programme and their FIH Approved products. If you are considering installing a field or purchasing new field equipment, we strongly encourage you to visit www.fih.ch/qp

About the FIH Quality Programme 
The FIH Quality Programme is an internationally recognised quality-assurance programme that provides consistent and dependable industry standards for the performance, construction and durability of hockey turf installations worldwide and ensures the appropriate quality for the intended level of play. As a result it will help inspire more people to play hockey, promote player welfare and protect the investment of those funding hockey facilities.

For more information about this programme, click here.

ECHA asks RAC to prepare a supplementary opinion

ESTC is pleased to learn that the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) has asked their Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) to prepare a supplementary opinion on the proposed restriction on intentionally-added microplastics with respect to polymeric infills used in synthetic turf sports fields. The request has been made so that RAC can consider new documents that have emerged since RAC adopted its opinion in June 2020.

The RAC is requested to focus on the restriction options for containing infill materials in view of submissions made to the consultation on the draft opinion of the Committee for Socio-Economic Analysis (SEAC).

Specifically, ECHA are asking RAC to consider the recently published CEN technical report TR 17519 on risk management measures (RMM), and a study that assessed the effectiveness of the RMM proposed in CEN TR17519 to reduce infill releases to < 7g/m2. This study by Magnusson & Mácsik, (Ecoloop) was commissioned by ESTC while the task group that undertook the work for the CEN document was chaired by the ESTC technical director and a number of ESTC members participated.

In a note to the RAC, ECHA highlights that the RMM recommended in CEN TR 17519 have now been incorporated into the requirements for synthetic turf pitches published by FIFA, World Rugby, the Rugby Football League, the Gaelic Athletics Association, the International Hockey Federation, and funding agencies such as the UK’s Football Foundation.

ECHA also acknowledges that ESTC commissioned the Ecoloop study, and it highlights the conclusion the authors drew.

In the opinion RAC delivered in June 2020 they expressed concerns about the practicality and enforceability of risk management measures in the absence of appropriate international/European standards or guidance on their use. With the CEN report now being in the public domain and having been embraced voluntarily by all major sports governing bodies, ECHA invites RAC to consider whether the publication addresses the concern they initially raised.

ESTC understands that the RAC aims for having a first discussion and adoption of this additional work item once it meets in March 2021. It has been asked to submit its supplementary opinion prior to the draft European Commission proposals on the microplastics restriction are published prior to consultation with the Member States in June 2021.

The official request to the RAC and background information can be found at ECHA and the draft recast of the PIC Regulation (europa.eu)

 

On 24 February at 11am (CET) ESTC will discuss these developments in a webinar. Technical director Alastair Cox and Environmental Regulations Working Group chair Colin Young will brief attendants and take questions in a Q&A session. The webinar is open to anybody interested. Non-member will be charged an administrative fee of 100€ while ESTC members can participate free-of-charge. 

To register : https://www.estc.info/webinar-registration-echa/