European Code of Practice

Following the decision by the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) to draft a restriction limiting the quantities of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) allowed in infill materials used in synthetic turf surfaces it became apparent to ESTC that there should be a pan-European method of sampling infills to allow testing to verify that they comply with the restriction. The need was identified to prevent individual countries from introducing their own sampling procedures and making it very difficult for suppliers to comply without complex production procedures. Through our close links with the European Standards Committee CEN TC 217, ESTC proposed that a European Standard for the sampling of performance infills used within synthetic turf surfaces should be developed. This work commenced on March 2018 and ESTC is pleased to be able to advise the formal vote for publication of the European Standard recently closed with a positive outcome. The document is now with CEN and EN 17409: Code of practice for the sampling of performance infills used within synthetic turf surfaces will now be published as European Standard and automatically as a national standard in European countries.

The code of practice describes three procedures: one for sampling during production, one for sampling from deliveries to site, and one for sampling from installed fields. ESTC will ensure that ECHA are aware of the code of practice as soon as it is published and encourage them to refer to it in the restriction they are currently finalising for performance infills.

It is important to note that code of practice does not specify how the PAH content of performance infills should be measured. The European Commission has asked CEN to develop a harmonised test method for measuring the PAH content in rubber and plastic items (For details see https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/news/new-test-methods-plastic-and-rubber-product-safety). ESTC is not participating in this very specialised topic, but understand that the work is ongoing.

ESTC environmental activities taking shape

ESTC has formed two new Working Groups that will each focus on specific aspects of the environment.

The End-of-Use Working Group will focus solely on all aspects related to synthetic turf that will no longer be of use to its original owner. It will discuss and work on documentation related to the correct removal and disposal procedures of synthetic turf products. Eric O’Donnell of Sports Labs has volunteerd to chair this Working Group.

The second newly formed Working Group will focus on drafting the category rules for the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) of synthetic turf.

As communicated before, following a thorough application process, ESTC has been selected as representative of one of 5 industries to participate in the project initiated by the European Commission. This working group will also handle all issues related to microplastics. Colin Young of the TenCate Grass Group has volunteered to chair the PEF CR & Microplastics Working Group. He will be assisted by a Technical Secretariat who will represent the synthetic turf industry in the PEF CR project from the European Union. Furthermore, ESTC has selected the consultant Pré to assist us in understanding the technical requirements and guiding us through all paperwork associated with the project.

Support publication of the CEN guideline!

ESTC encourages you to reach out to your national standards organisation to notify them that you support the publication of ‘Guidance on how to minimise infill dispersion into the environment’ by the European Standards Committee. The support is essential as we understand that the European Chemical Agency’s Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) is likely to recommend a market ban on polymeric infill materials.

The ballot by CEN to authorise the publication of the report has just commenced, with a closing date in early June. The draft report has been prepared with input from ESTC, experts representing their national standards organisations and international and national sports associations.

Publishing this guideline is essential to show the European Commission that the industry is serious about minimising infill migration from synthetic turf fields.

Good design minimises infill migration and makes ban unnecessary
From what we have been told, the European Chemical Agency’s Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) is likely to recommend a ban effective six years after the new restriction comes into effect. This would mean that from 2027/28 polymeric infill would no longer be available to the market.

RAC is one of only two committees that will advise the European Commission on the proposed ban. The other committee is the Social and Economic Assessment Committee (SEAC). Their meeting has been postponed until June or later. SEAC looks at the broader implications and alternative options whereas RAC tends to take a conservative approach because their primary focus is on the scientific aspects of a draft restriction.

Once the opinions of both committees are finalised, they will be sent to the European Commission to enable them to decide on the final content of the microplastics restriction. The Commission does not have to follow the recommendations of RAC or SEAC.

ESTC and others have already expressed views on the socioeconomic impact of any ban. We have proposed alternative ways to minimise infill migration through field containment methods. We hope SEAC will give this due consideration.

Get your copy!
Good field design and construction, containment features within perimeter fencing, edging details, access points and stormwater drainage systems are just a few examples of how infill migration can be managed. To give this guidance enhanced status and ensure publication throughout Europe, ESTC proposed that the European Standards Committee (CEN) responsible for synthetic sports surfaces, develop and publish a technical report on this subject.

We encourage you to obtain a copy of the national edition (Dutch, German, Belgium, British, etc) of the draft report from your national standards organisation (DIN, AFNOR, NEN, BSI, etc) and to notify the national standards organisation that you support the publication of the report. Please convince the national standards organisation of the importance of registering a positive vote. If the publication of the report does not receive enough support, ESTC’s submissions to ECHA will less likely influence their recommendations to the European Commission.

The CEN report reference is FprCENTR 17519, Surfaces for sports areas – Synthetic turf sports facilities Guidance on how to Minimize Infill Dispersion into the Environment (Leitfaden zur Minimierung des Risikos von Umweltkontaminationen durch Kunststoffrasenfüllungen).

We also invite you to share this information with national sports associations and other interested parties to get as much support as possible.

You can download the English version of the CEN document here. Please note that most national standards organisations will have the document available in your native language.

ESTC congress postponed until November

ESTC has decided to postpone its 2020 congress. With countries having implemented travel restrictions because of the coronavirus, hosting a conference with many members absent would defeat the purpose of the event.

The new dates for the event will be 16 – 18 November. The congress will still take place at the Ambassadeur Hotel in Juan-les-Pines, near Nice.

The booking form and updated programme (where applicable) for the November event, will be distributed in due course.

Telco on ST plans of World Rugby

Marc Douglas has accepted an invitation by the ESTC to host a conference call to explain plans World Rugby has to limit the environmental impact of synthetic turf. The new plans include reducing the pile length, more attention to the quality of the shockpad as well as a the enforcement of measures that will maintain the infill within the field perimeter.

The Telco will take place on Thursday 19 March, 11am CET and is only open to members of the ESTC.

Interested ESTC members can announce their participation here

All relevant details regarding this teleconference will be send by email on Monday 16 March.

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