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 info@estc.info.

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.

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.