REACH Restriction intentionally added microplastics – EU voted for transition period of 8 years

On the 26thApril 2023 the EU member states voted to support a revised REACH Restriction proposal tabled by the European Commission on how to control the use of intentionally added microplastics. Based on their definition of intentionally added microplastics, this Restriction will include polymeric infill materials used in synthetic turf surfaces.

The agreed wording now proposes a transition period of eight years before the placing on the market of polymeric infill materials is prohibited – an extension from the originally proposed six years that is designed to ensure that existing synthetic turf fields containing polymeric infills can continue to be maintained until they reach end-of-life.

Having been approved by the EU’s REACH Committee the Restriction will now be scrutinised by the European Parliament and the Council of Europe.  These bodies cannot change the Restriction wording but they can veto its incorporation into EU law. The two bodies have a period of three months to consider the proposed legislation. Once this process has been completed, formal notification of the amendment to the REACH Regulations to incorporate this new restriction will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and the transition period will commence.

On the assumption the official publication will take place this year, this revision of the REACH restriction means  that, in practice, as of 2031 it will no longer be allowed to buy or sell (placing on the market) polymeric infill.  However, the use of synthetic turf fields with polymeric infill will still be allowed. 

The ESTC Infill interest group is currently developing guidance on all types of infill materials, with a specific focus on non-polymeric infills that fall outside the scope of the new EU restriction.

ESTC Board elects Chair and Vice Chair

At their last meeting of the year, held on December 7 in Düsseldorf, the ESTC Board of Directors elected the new Chair and Vice Chair to the Executive Committee, for the coming 2 years.
ESTC is pleased to announce that Colin Young (Ten Cate Grass) was elected Chair and Paul Fraser (Tarkett Sports) Vice Chair.
Colin Young succeeds Friedemann Söll (Polytan), who has not only held the position of Chair for the past 2 years but has been a driving force for 15 years, playing a crucial role in the transformation of ESTO into ESTC as we know it today. Fortunately, Friedemann will continue to serve on the Board as the Immediate Past Chair. Creating this new position will facilitate the smooth handover and will ensure the Board can still rely on the outgoing Chair’s experience and expertise.  The Immediate Past Chair will have a consultative role, with no voting rights.

Colin Young :  “I’m really honoured to be taking over the Chair from Friedemann who has driven the ESTC forwards over the past several years and put us into a very strong position ready to face future challenges with lots of impending transitional legislation. We are lucky to have a strong devise board from a range of companies representing all types of ESTC members. The whole turf industry continues to grow and mature; it’s a really exciting time for us and I hope that the ESTC can continue to support the development and growth for the benefit of all members.”

Paul Fraser : “Having been part of the Board for the last two years, and leading the Marketing Pillar, I am very pleased to now take on the role of Vice Chair. I look forward to working with Colin as the new Chair, the ESTC Board and the wider membership going forward. Our industry is going through significant change and challenges however there are tremendous opportunities for us to embrace the challenges jointly and to overcome them with one voice.”

New  strategic Pillar leaders appointed 
In addition, the leaders for the 4 strategic Pillars were (re)-appointed.  Luca Girelli (Trocellen) will continue to lead the Networking Pillar, Paul Fraser handed over the responsibility of the Marketing Pillar to Amii van Werven (Intelligent Play),  Frenk Stoop (Polytex) takes over the Advocacy Pillar from Friedemann Söll and last but not least, Eric O’Donnell (Sports Labs) will head the Knowledge Pillar, succeeding Gert-Jan Kieft (Kiwa ISA Sport).  The Pillar leaders will now work on a strategy and action plan for the next year and will be sharing this with all of you shortly !

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.

3 CEN TR 17519 Guidance on how to minimise infill dispersion into the environment – for a copy, contact your national standards institute


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 ( 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 :


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.