ECHA opinion delayed by 3 months

The European Chemical Agency (ECHA) has decided to take an extra three months to finalize its opinion on the proposed restriction on intentionally added microplastics. The consolidated opinion of ECHA’s Committees for Risk Assessment (RAC) and Socio-economic Analysis (SEAC) is now expected in June this year.

The standard 12 months reserved for the committees’ opinion formation has been extended due to the high number of comments received through the public consultation. ECHA also acknowledges the complexity of the issues to be evaluated.

The public consultation on the proposal to restrict the use of intentionally added microplastic particles closed on 20 September 2019. By that time ECHA had received 477 individual comments.

2020 ESTC conference confirmed

The ESTC announced today the dates and venue for the 2020 conference.

Next’ year event will be held on 1 and 2 April with Working Group meetings scheduled for the first day and conference speakers lined up for the second day. The organising team is currently also working on arrangements for site-visits on 3 April.

The conference theme will be: Synthetic turf in a changing society.

The event will be hosted at the Ambassadeur Hotel in Antibes, Juan les Pins in France.

ESTC conferences are the biggest gatherings of professionals in the synthetic turf industry within the EMEA region. Apart from receiving the latest updates on trends and developments, the events also provide ample opportunity to network and meet other people from the industry.

ESTC and SASPI strengthen ties

The EMEA Synthetic Turf Council (ESTC) and the South African Sports and Play Industry (SASPI) have agreed to further explore opportunities to jointly develop the synthetic turf industry in Africa.

Representatives of both organisations used the FSB Show in Cologne, Germany, to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to closely work together in the interest of both the synthetic turf industry and the market.

“Africa is a very important continent for us as most of our members develop synthetic turf solutions with the diversity of Africa’s climate and geographical conditions in mind. We are very pleased to know that SASPI shares our eagerness to further develop the market. SASPI is a well-established organisation and unites almost all quality players in the market for synthetic turf in South Africa. A close partnership would certainly help both SASPI and the ESTC to take matters to the next level,” says ESTC Director General Stefan Diderich.

ESTC is the industry association for the synthetic turf industry in Europe, the Middle-East and Africa. It closely works with the Synthetic Turf Council (STC) in North-America and serves as the forum to promote, develop, grow and advocate for the synthetic turf industry.

“Synthetic turf provides a water and energy-saving solution to green gardens and public spaces as well as delivering a quality and safe sports surface in any location. However, it is important that investors spend their money correctly. Therefore the ESTC continuously liaise with authorities at every level to develop and improve the quality standards for the industry,” Diderich adds.

Good examples are the quality guidelines that the ESTC recently introduced for landscaping turf, and the improved quality standard for UV-testing. “By embracing our protocol for UV-testing, FIFA, World Rugby and FIH have made sure that clubs and players will have more joy from their investment.”

SASPI CEO Jeremy Stewart views a partnership as a way to further inform and educate the market. “South Africa is in the unique position of being the only country on the African continent that has a well-established synthetic turf production and installation industry. A close relationship with the ESTC would really help us in guiding and educating our market and helping the end-user to invest their money wisely.”

Vote of confidence for Council

The ESTC Council has received a vote of confidence from its members. The three members whose seats were up for election, have all been re-elected. The council has been further strengthened with the election of Stefaan Florquin (Re-Match).

The ESTC Council is made up of 10 members, including two vice-presidents, who are elected for a 3-year period.

Elections were needed as the term of four council members was coming to an end on the of November 1st. Three of the Council members indicated that they would like to extend their participation in the Council and would stand for re-election. They were challenged by several other members keen to join the Council.

ESTC members were invited to cast their vote for the council members during September and October. The final result is that Friedemann Söll of Polytan, Luca Girelli of Trocellen and Frenk Stoop of Sekisui Alveo have been re-elected and that Stefaan Florquin will join the Council.

“The fact that three current Council members have been re-elected shows that the work that is being done is appreciated by the membership. There are many challenges ahead but we are confident that with a strong Council in place, and the support of an active membership, these challenges can be met,” ESTC Director General Stefan Diderich says. “The ESTC Council wishes to thank outgoing Council member Aurélien Leblan (Labosport) for his commitment to the Council over the past years.”

The ESTC
Executive Chairman: Stefan Diderich
Vice President: Friedemann Söll, Polytan
Vice President: Hein Heerink, TenCate Grass

Council members:
Frenk Stoop (Sekisui Alveo)
Luca Girelli (Trocellen)
Stefaan Florquin (Re-Match)
Massimo Seghezzi (Radici P Industries)
Gert-Jan Kieft (Kiwa ISA Sport)
Jaroslav Buda (Juta)
Frédéric Rasschaert (BFS Europe)
Susanne Thillaye (Eurofield)

Technical Consultant: Alastair Cox
Director of Operations: Natasja Faelens

EC will welcome ESTC PEF input

The European Commissions has responded positively to the ESTC proposal to help draft the Product Environmental Footprint regulation on synthetic turf.

An ESTC delegation presented the proposal to the EU in mid-September.

“Convincing the EC that drafting a Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) regulation for synthetic turf is essential and is a big achievement as we were competing for this recognition with several other industries. In most cases, the turnover and number of products these industries represented were higher than those we tabled. Nevertheless, we managed to convince the EU of the importance of synthetic turf by pointing out the positive contributions it makes to society,” says ESTC Director General Stefan Diderich.

The recognition is only the first step. “With our proposal accepted, we now have to establish a taskforce that will spearhead the drafting of the document. We also have to secure the funding for this project. Therefore, we call on our members and the industry to reconsider their involvement in the industry by jumping at this opportunity to actively make things happen.”

Changing attitude
Without taking anything from the delegation who presented the proposal, the ESTC is also sensing a changing attitude. “Our vocal response in the debate about PAHs or microplastics, as well as our proactive approach towards institutions like the EU, FIFA, FIH or World Rugby, haven’t gone unnoticed. FIFA has already embraced the ESTC as being the representative for the synthetic turf industry and the positive response from the EU shows that they too see and understand our significance.”

People and companies keen to get involved in the drafting of the document can visit the ESTC stand during the upcoming FSB event. This event will take place from 5 November to 8 November at the Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany. The ESTC stand will be located in Hall 10.2, A24.

“We will also host a teleconference early next year to update our members. Obviously, the PEF will also be on the agenda for our conference in Nice on 1 and 2 April 2020.”

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ESTC statement on PFAS

Concerns have been raised over the possible presence of PFAS in synthetic turf fields. The PFAS substance group contains over 6,000 substances, some of which have been identified as toxic or hardly degradable. Linking the presence of PFAS in soil to synthetic turf is unjustified and premature.

PFAS are a broad group of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl chemical compounds that are used for their fire-resistant, dirt-repellent and water-repellent properties. They have been in use since the 1940s. PFAS are used in many everyday items such as paint, fire-fighting foam, non-stick pans, clothing, cosmetics and pizza boxes.

Due to the widespread use of PFAS, testing for the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds runs a high risk of cross-contamination and false positive results.

Manufacturers in Europe have to comply with standards, protocols and quantity restrictions legislated by the EU. Since 2006 they also have to comply with the REACH regulation, which addresses the production and use of chemical substances, and their potential impact on both human health and the environment.

Under REACH, companies using PFAS are required to have their negative impact on human beings assessed. They will only be allowed to use a PFAS when the substance is considered not harmful.

The ESTC is currently monitoring the debate and will update members and the industry once we have received additional information.

ESTC delegation delivers PEF presentation

The ESTC delivered a presentation to the European Commission this morning to convince the commission to make the synthetic turf industry part of their panel that will develop a harmonised environmental footprint methodology.

The European Union wants to develop a harmonised environmental footprint methodology that should help to determine the environmental footprint of products. Harmonising the measuring criteria will help with the correct labelling of products and should close the door on so-called ‘green-washing’ practices whereby claims or logos are being used without having been validated by a qualified and independent authority. Most of these claims are about the environmental impact or friendliness of a product.

“The ESTC is in a perfect position to explain the shortcomings of current programmes and the need for a Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) methodology. However, the number of seats at the table is limited and the synthetic turf industry is one of many industries that want to be in on it,” explained ESTC Director General, Stefan Diderich, upon his return. “As we recently decided to actively pursue a closer relationship with institutions like the EU, today’s presentation was the first but they will definitely see us more often in the future,” he adds.

“We explained why this process is important to our industry and why we feel we could make a meaningful contribution. Our presentation was received well but we will only hear in mid-October whether our proposal has been accepted.”

 

 

ECHA makes decision on PAHs limits

The Committee for Socio-economic Analysis (SEAC) has adopted its final opinion supporting the proposal for restricting eight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) found in granules and mulches used, for example, in synthetic turf pitches and playgrounds.

The restriction proposal lowers the total concentration limit of eight PAHs to 20 mg/kg (0.002 % by weight). The concentration limits for PAHs in mixtures supplied to the general public are currently set at 100 mg/kg or 1 000 mg/kg for each of the substances.

Following SEAC’s adoption of its final opinion, the opinions of both RAC and SEAC will be forwarded to the European Commission. The Commission will consider if the conditions for the restriction are met, prepare a draft restriction measure to amend the REACH Restrictions list (Annex XVII) and submit this for an opinion to Member States in the REACH Committee.

ESTC Director General, Stefan Diderich is very pleased with SEAC’s decision. “We are very pleased to hear that ECHA’s scientific committees support a maximum that was proposed by the industry itself. This clearly demonstrates that the synthetic turf industry is mature enough to deal with complicated issues and to implement self-regulation that serves stakeholders both within and without the industry. It fills me with pride to know that the ESTC and some of our members were amongst those supplying all necessary information and documentation that assisted in the process of drafting this recommendation. I am confident that this pro-active approach will continue to serve the industry in the future.”

Council vacancies

For some members of the ESTC Council, the term of office comes to an end in November this year.  This means that we are looking for candidates to fill these positions.  
Composition of the ESTC Council 
The Council consists of max 6 representatives from yarn and turf producing companies and max 4 representatives from companies, other than yarn and turf producing companies (plus the Executive Chairman).  The  Council members are elected for a period of 3 years and can be re-elected again.  
The Council members will be elected by all full members.  
The role of the ESTC Council
 We are fortunate to have a group of highly-committed individuals on the current Council that are willing to share their expertise and experience.  The role of an ESTC Council member is an important one, helping to create ESTC’s strategic direction and implement its objectives.  The Council members act as industry leaders in developing and promoting the work of ESTC and ensuring that ESTC serves its members effectively.
As far as time commitment is concerned, the Council meets in person 2-3 times a year and has regular phone conferences (around every 6 weeks).
Current Council members 
·            Friedemann Söll – Polytan (Vice-Chairman & Treasurer)*
·           Hein Heerink – Ten Cate (Vice-Chairman)
·            Aurélien Leblan – Labosport* 
·            Luca Girelli – Trocellen*
·            Frenk Stoop – Sekisui Alveo* 
·           Gert-Jan Kieft – Kiwa ISA Sport
·            Jaroslav Buda – Juta 
·            Massimo Seghezzi – Sit-In Sport 
·           Frédéric Rasschaert – BFS Europe
·         Susanne Thillaye – Eurofield
·         Stefan Diderich – Director General/CEO
* end of term of office in November 2019
Vacancies
We have 4 positions to be filled : 1 for a representative from a yarn and turf producing company and 3 for representatives from non-yarn and turf producing companies.  Note – the Council members whose term of office ends in November can be re-elected again.
Should there be more candidates than positions to be filled, a vote will occur among all full members.  
If you are interested to apply for one these positions, please let Stefan or Natasja know by September 30th, 2019 latest.