Infill dispersion can be managed

A combination of appropriate field design, good maintenance routines and improved player’ hygiene can limit infill dispersion to only 2g/m2, says Swedish consultancy firm Ecoloop.

Earlier this year, ESTC commissioned Ecoloop to undertake a study to describe typical use of synthetic turf fields in the EU and to quantify the extent of infill transport due to common activities on third-generation synthetic turf fields.

The Swedish consultants have studied all the literature available on these topics. They have identified three zones:

  • The field of play where the infill is meant to be
  • A control zone to where the infill can migrate and accumulate. This zone is designed with this in mind, hence the infill cannot move out of the area
  • An uncontrolled zone, to where infill should not migrate.

They conclude that infill migration into uncontrolled zones on fields in common use in the EU can be controlled by up to 97%. If adopted, use of mitigating measures and good practices could help limit the uncontrolled migration of infill to about 2 g/m2. This is below the 7g/m2 proposed by ECHA’s Socio-Economic Analysis Committee (SEAC).

Mitigating measures

Examples of mitigating measures are barriers, decontamination grates, boot cleaning brushes and filters. These will help maintain the infill within the boundaries of the containment zone of the field. Earlier this year, the European Standards Committee released CEN TR 17519 Surfaces for sports areas – Synthetic turf sports facilities Guidance on how to Minimize Infill Dispersion into the Environment, which documents these and other mitigating solutions. These solutions are endorsed by the various sports governing bodies, with FIFA even incorporating these in their latest ‘Handbook of test methods.

In addition, adoption good practices by maintenance crews as well as players and officials will result in capturing infill before it leaves the perimeter. With these stakeholders handling and storing maintenance equipment correctly, as well as use of boot cleaning stations and decontamination grades, the dispersion of infill could be further controlled.

The Ecoloop report shows that if all parties using synthetic turf fields with polymeric infills act responsibly and implement the recommendations of the CEN technical report, infill migration can be controlled. Therefore, banning the sale or use of polymeric infill shouldn’t be necessary.

ESTC is calling on ECHA to recommend infill for 3G synthetic turf to be granted derogation from the proposed restrictions on intentionally added microplastics, on the basis that the recommendations of the CEN technical report become mandatory for all new and existing fields.

You can download the full report here.

5 Days left to answer 5 questions

Please don’t forget that ECHA’s deadline to respond to the draft opinion of its Socio-Economic Analysis Committee (SEAC) on the restriction dossier on intentionally added microplastics, expires on 1st September 2020.

Those wishing to convince SEAC that the market is not ready yet to do away with polymeric infill for third generation synthetic turf fields, will have to answer the following 5 questions:

  1. Will there be enough alternative synthetic turf systems that meet relevant performance standards available, and in sufficient quantities, for all types of pitches by the end of the six-year transitional period proposed?
  2. How many pitches would need to be replaced before the end of their expected lifetime and what would the impacts of such a replacement be?
  3. Is there evidence to suggest that indoor artificial pitches should be treated differently from outdoor pitches?
  4. Is it true that only 10-20% of pitches would need to be replaced be?
  5. Is it correct that the average cost of containment is considered to be 30,000 € per field?

Please note that SEAC wants answers to these questions to be substantiated with evidence. The comments can be submitted online by following this link.

ESTC response

A comprehensive ESTC response will be submitted by the end of the week latest. Our response will be substantiated by the literature review undertaken based on results from our own tests in Sweden. Here, consultancy company Ecoloop concluded that published data from various studies  shows that, providing a synthetic turf field is fitted with mitigating measures, maintenance correctly by responsible operators and players use boot cleaning brushes, etc., infill dispersion can be limited to max. 7 gr/m2 per year.

The value World Rugby sees in ESTC

World Rugby has become the latest ESTC affiliate. Marc Douglas of World Rugby explains the value they see in joining the governing body for the synthetic turf industry.

With all the major suppliers in the synthetic turf value chain, as well as all the major sports governing bodies already being members, it makes logical sense that World Rugby would join ESTC.  Marc Douglas : ‘We will now have unrestricted access to the industry. As synthetic turf systems are made up of a variety of individual components of which the alignment and collective cooperation determines the final performance, the interaction we can now have with companies further down the value chain will certainly add value to the relationship we already have with our Preferred Turf Producers partnerships and our Accredited Test Institutes. These partnerships are very important to us and we have very good relationships with each of them. ESTC events will provide a perfect opportunity to catch up and engage with all areas of the industry.’

‘Fields must be Regulation 22-compliant if they are to be used for any form of contact rugby so we rely on the industry in general to help get that message out. We look forward to, through membership of ESTC, having more input from the entire synthetic turf value chain. This will further add value to the honest feedback we try to collect from our Preferred Turf Producers and our Accredited Test Institutes.’

Working Groups contribution

ESTC Working Groups are at the heart of ESTC activities. As a member, World Rugby can now participate in discussions and contribute to ESTC publications. ‘In the past our interaction with these working groups was limited. Now we can join the table and participate in the discussions taking place in the Shockpad, Yarn, Infill, as well as the Environmental Legislation Working Group meetings. The latter has become particularly important as it covers current issues like recycling or appropriate field design to mitigate infill dispersion. These are issues we take very seriously. The various publications and standards produced by ESTC are relevant to all owners and users of synthetic turf fields. Most compliant rugby fields are in Europe, so any outcome from the microplastics discussion has a material effect on what we do. However, rugby is also growing in popularity, so the fact that ESTC represents the industry within the EMEA region, has an extra added value. At the same time, we are also an Associate Member of the Synthetic Turf Council in North America as we recognise the challenges that being a minority sport pose to the work our member Unions in the area do in complying with Regulation 22. That membership and partnership is also important to us to further improve the game and the surfaces on which it is played. Being able to participate in drafting new documentation will enable us to further help educate end users about synthetic turf for rugby and how it can benefit other sports and athletes. We know from experience how difficult it is to get relevant information out.’

Adding value to members

Earlier this year, Marc hosted a webinar to update ESTC members about the latest developments regarding synthetic turf within World Rugby. ESTC members can certainly look forward to more of these exclusive opportunities. ‘The annual ESTC Congress and Working Group meeting will provide us with another opportunity to meet and listen to the industry, as well as to provide feedback from the rugby community. The webinars ESTC hosts will also provide us with a platform to interact with the industry. Last but not least, I also foresee that our membership will add value to the One-Turf vision that reflects best practice in the areas of player welfare, performance, sustainability, and longevity as developed by FIFA, World Rugby, and FIH. As FIFA and FIH are already members of ESTC, we are now able to collectively engage with the industry and take this concept to another level.’

ESTC Letter to the members released

The latest issue of our ‘Letter to the members’ has been released! This edition of the quarterly newsletter updates members about the latest developments regarding polymeric and biodegradable infills, the FIFA Technical Advisory Group meeting, activities within the ESTC Working Groups, and achievements by members.

Being the sole industry body for the synthetic turf industry within the EMEA region, ESTC takes its responsibility of educating and informing the market very seriously. The ESTC Letter to our members is only one of the many benefits ESTC members receive.

Not a member yet? Join us or sign up for our external newsletter to ensure you stay in the loop.

ECHA publishes SEAC draft opinion

ECHA has opened the window for a public consultation on the SEAC Draft Opinion on the Microplastics REACH restriction. This is the final opportunity to comment on what is proposed. Together with the SEAC draft opinion, ECHA also published the final opinion by the Risk Assessment Committee (RAC). As previously advised, RAC is recommending a ban on the sale of polymeric infills, to be implemented after a six year transitional period.

With SEAC currently not expressing a firm opinion on whether a ban or derogation based on risk management methods (containment) is most appropriate, ESTC is hopeful that SEAC can still be convinced to either maintain this position or opt for derogation.

We need your input!
If you can provide further reasons why a ban should not be introduced, or provide evidence that containment will achieve the objectives of the restriction, especially beyond what has already been said, it will help us promote our argument.

Send your feedback to by 14 August latest to allow ESTC’s Technical Director Alastair Cox to formulate an industry response.

Next step
The final opinions by RAC and SEAC will be used by the European Commission in their discussions directly with the Member States. ESTC has produced this to flyer explain you the process.

ESTC will continue to lobby for derogation based on risk management methods (containment). We are speaking directly with member states on this matter and we have commissioned a report from Swedish environmental consultants that have expertise in this area.

With the CEN Technical Report on Methods of Minimizing Infill Migration from Synthetic Turf Fields to be published on 22nd July, the industry will soon have all the tools to promote this preferred option. All that is left is to convince SEAC and the European Commission that polymeric infill dispersion can be controlled this way.

Opening up about the end of use

The ESTC End of Use Working Group reflects the entire synthetic turf value chain. Its purpose is to collect and build on the experience and best practices to recapitalise on old synthetic turf. Working Group chairman Eric O’Donnell reports.

The recycling and removal of synthetic turf has become a hot topic in recent debates. With most markets in Europe having reached a point where the first installations of synthetic turf have come up for replacement, it appears that few owners of synthetic turf fields have been prepared for the question of ‘what to do with the old turf?’ In light of the growing environmental awareness in society and the drive towards a more sustainable future, ESTC has recognised a need to establish a Working Group to guide the preparation thereof, and to disseminate relevant information.

Members of the ESTC End of Use Working Group represent the entire synthetic turf value chain. Members include raw material suppliers BASF, Dow, and Total, together with removal and recycling companies Advanced Sports Installations Europe, PR Recycling, and Re-Match, complemented by manufacturing and installation companies FieldTurf Tarkett, Sport Group (Polytan, Melos and Astroturf), and TenCate Grass Group (Ten Cate yarns and GreenFields).

Sharing knowledge

Although the debate about old synthetic turf and the re-use of reclaimed materials is fairly new, the collective knowledge and experience that members of the Working Group have, is massive. The Working Group will benefit from this with immediate effect. The Working Group has established the following agenda:

  1. To improve knowledge of waste streams and of what can be done with the ‘waste’.
  2. To share knowledge and experience with regards to what the industry is doing to tackle waste, recycling, and the carbon footprint.
  3. To highlight best practice for processes which facilitate recycling. These best practices should help with the publication of an ESTC Guideline.
  4. To educate buyers and end-users about what to expect when they intend to make use of a recycling/reuse/repurpose service.

Adding value

Providing old synthetic turf is removed correctly and removed by a company that pursues a higher purpose, synthetic turf has an advantage in that all the components can be used for another purpose. This requires all companies in the synthetic turf value chain to recognise (and, where necessary, to adopt) the waste hierarchy that most societies, these days, pursue.



One of the main agenda points for this Working Group is the establishment of an End of Use passport for old synthetic turf. Where a Product Datasheet would provide insight into what a synthetic turf field was made of, the ESTC End of Use passport would help track fields that have been removed and establish the new purpose that has been given to the various components.


On 1st July 2020, Working Group chairman Eric O’Donnell updated ESTC members about the plans and progress of the Working Group in a webinar. 


Guideline for recommissioning a field after lockdown

Handy tips and guidance on how to recommission a synthetic turf field after lockdown have all been captured in the ESTC Guidelines for Preparing your synthetic turf field for use after lockdown.

The document has been drafted by the ESTC Maintenance Working Group. The one-page document addresses all important aspects clubs and municipalities have to consider. It also discusses how to deal with the implications of COVID-19.

You can download the guideline here

CEN publishes new standards

Three more European Standards have been published by the European Standards Committee (CEN). ESTC has played an important role in initiating and drafting these documents.

CEN has announced that the following standards are now available for purchase:

  • EN 17409 Surfaces for sports areas. Code of practice for the sampling of performance infills used within synthetic turf surfaces
  • EN 17326 Surfaces for sports areas. Determination of dimensional stability of shock pads used within sports systems
  • EN 17324 Surfaces for sports areas. Test method for the determination of the resistance to dynamic fatigue of shock pads and sports surfaces

Copies of these standards can be purchased from the respective National Standards Organisation. As the announcement was only made last week, it is possible that some countries will not have the translated versions available yet, as work to translate these documents might still be in progress.

TS prepares WG

Groundworks for a PEFCR Working Group have been laid, with the ESTC Technical Secretariat having finished the first phase of the project.

The Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCR) project was initiated by the European Commission last year. It aims to establish official Life Cycle Assessment procedures for industry sectors. Following a thorough application process, the EU decided to cover synthetic turf in the project. ESTC was selected to represent the synthetic turf industry among four other industries.

Earlier this year, ESTC, in accordance with the rules set by the European Commission, established a Technical Secretariat (TS). With the assistance of specialised consultants, the TS will coordinate the process for establishing and testing an LCA for the synthetic turf industry. It is anticipated that this will take two years.

The TC has now compiled a list of the materials and processes that ESTC will ask the European Commission to provide. These secondary data sets are intended for use in the PEFCR. Items on the list range from the basic polymers used for the production of yarn, to end-of-use disposal of synthetic turf surfaces. Secondary data sets define the LCA or environmental impact values attributed to each material and process used throughout the life of a synthetic turf product. Providing these datasets ensure that all companies use the same values when calculating the LCA for their specific product. When a secondary data set is not provided it is the responsibility of the company undertaking the LCA to determine the value (in a defined way). The more that the EC is able to provide, the simpler it will be for the members in the future.

Establishing Working Group

The work of the PEFCR Technical Secretariat is one of a number of ESTC’s active projects. To ensure members are kept informed, an Environmental Regulation Working Group is being established. ESTC members are now invited to express their interest in participating in this working group by sending an email to

Working groups form the heart of our organisation. The combined knowledge and experience of participants go a long way to guide the drafting of, or establishing of, guidelines and protocols that can make a difference. Recent achievements include the production of the ‘ESTC Performance Guide for Shock Pads’ as well as the ‘ESTC Quality Guide for Landscaping Turf’. Both documents serve as important tools for establishing the quality of synthetic turf components. ESTC also played an important role in the drafting of the guidance on how to minimise infill dispersion into the environment. This document is currently being reviewed by the European Standards Committee (CEN). Once published it will be compulsory for the market in Europe to consider the various measures to minimise infill dispersion that are proposed in this document before realising a synthetic turf field fitted with the relevant solutions.

The ESTC Environmental Regulation Working Group will play an essential role for the future of synthetic turf. It will help ESTC lobby to ensure that the increasing desire to regulate our industry does not become unnecessarily onerous or create major market difficulties.

FIH latest affiliate member of ESTC

EMEA Synthetic Turf Council (ESTC) is pleased to announce that the Fédération Internationale de Hockey (FIH) has joined ESTC as an affiliate member. The affiliate membership enables FIH to interact directly with the synthetic turf industry and to participate in the various ESTC knowledge forums.

ESTC Director General Stefan Diderich calls the membership a milestone for both the synthetic turf industry and the international hockey community. “FIH and ESTC share the ambition of sustainable and durable synthetic turf fields that don’t compromise on affordability and game experience. Having FIH onboard will help speed up the process as ESTC represents the entire synthetic turf value chain for synthetic turf for different applications. FIH will certainly also benefit from knowledge gained or best practises observed in other synthetic turf applications and which our members have achieved.”

Hockey, through the innovative leadership of the FIH, has over 40 years’ experience of playing on synthetic turf fields and now fully embraces this type of playing surface, using it for all high-level competitions. Looking to the future, the FIH is working with the synthetic turf industry to develop surfaces that perform as desired, but without the need to water them first.

Commenting on the FIH joining the ESTC, Jon Wyatt, FIH Sport and Development Director, says that playing on synthetic turf has made hockey the fast, exciting and technically skilful game that is now played by millions of people around the world. By joining the ESTC, the FIH will be able to strengthen its relationships with the companies producing the surfaces that hockey needs. It will also help to ensure that FIH is part of the debate as questions around sustainability, maximising opportunities and returns on investment and environmental considerations become ever more important.