European Commission adopts measures to restrict intentionally added microplastics

The European Commission confirmed on Monday 25th September that they have now completed the adoption of the REACH restriction on the sale of intentionally added microplastics. The new restriction is intended to dramatically reduce the release of these materials into the environment. The restriction uses a broad definition of microplastics and covers all synthetic polymer particles that are below 5mm in size, non-organic, insoluble or resist degradation. Falling within this definition are the rubber and plastic infill materials used in synthetic turf surfaces.

To ensure that the many thousands of synthetic turf fields currently in use across the whole of Europe may continue to be used and maintained until they reach their end-of-life, the new restriction has granted synthetic turf infill materials a transition period of eight years, meaning the ban on the sale rubber and plastic infill materials will come into effect in September 2031.

What does this mean for the synthetic turf industry?
For current field owners the new restriction will not immediately affect the use of their fields or their maintenance; infill materials will continue to be available. ESTC does however, encourage owners of fields with rubber or plastic infills to ensure the use and maintenance of the fields is undertaken in a way that minimizes the risk of infill leaving the field. Guidance on how this can be achieved can be found at Knowledge Centre – ESTC – EMEA Synthetic Turf Council.

For new fields, it will still be possible to use polymeric infills until 2031, but field owners are advised to consider how they will maintain their fields once the ban becomes effective.
Recognizing the need to move away from rubber and plastic infill materials, the synthetic turf industry is introducing an increasing range of natural (vegetal) infill materials. including granulate cork, wood chip, olive pits, corn husks and coconut fibres. The industry is also developing surfaces that do not require any infill (4G non-filled turfs) and sand dressed surfaces.

Recycling Facilities for Synthetic Turf Systems in Europe – New Release

ESTC is pleased to share some great news, with the launch of a new industry Guide: ‘Recycling Facilities for Synthetic Turf Systems in Europe’ !

This guide aims to provide comprehensive information on companies in Europe that are actively offering recycling services for synthetic turf systems. It includes a location map infographic highlighting these companies, along with details about their facilities and features. This will enable interested parties to easily identify and access recycling services.

The increase in specialty recycling services signifies a positive development in sustainability efforts within the synthetic turf industry and the release of this document demonstrates ESTC’s commitment to encourage sustainable and responsible waste management practices.

This guide is intended to be a valuable resource for members and for industry stakeholders and we would therefore like to encourage you to share this document with your customers, suppliers and other interested parties.

The document will be updated when new recycling facilities become operational.

The latest version of the guide can be found on the ESTC website  –  Knowledge Centre (End of Life) section.



Statement in Defence of the Synthetic Turf Industry against Antitrust Allegations

ESTC is aware of the recent news regarding the European Union’s antitrust watchdog raid on companies operating in the synthetic turf industry. While we cannot comment on specific cases or companies involved, we firmly believe in the importance of fair competition and compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

As a representative of the synthetic turf industry, we emphasize our commitment to promoting a competitive market environment that benefits both consumers and businesses. Our industry has a track record of fostering innovation, providing high-quality products, and meeting the evolving needs of customers across various sectors.

The synthetic turf industry operates in a highly regulated environment and adheres to strict standards and guidelines. We are fully supportive of fair competition policies and compliance with antitrust rules. We believe that healthy competition stimulates innovation, fosters technological advancements, and ultimately benefits end-users.

We encourage the European Commission and the antitrust watchdog to conduct a thorough investigation to ensure the integrity and transparency of the market. We are confident that the synthetic turf industry, as a whole, will demonstrate its commitment to compliance and fair practices during this process.

ESTC remains dedicated to upholding the highest ethical standards and working in collaboration with regulators to ensure a fair and competitive marketplace. We are committed to providing safe, sustainable, and high-performing synthetic turf solutions to our customers while complying with all applicable laws and regulations.

Should there be any further developments regarding this matter, we will continue to cooperate with the authorities and provide any necessary information to support their investigation. We remain confident in the integrity of our industry and its commitment to fostering fair competition and delivering innovative solutions to customers.

For any inquiries or additional information, please feel free to contact the Director General/CEO of ESTC, Stefan Diderich @

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.

UK REACH publishes work programme for 2022-2023

On June 30, 2022, UK Reach published its work programme for 2022/23.   . This includes topics that will be of interest to ESTC members operating in the UK market as follows.

Priorities for the 2022-2023 UK Reach Work Programme 

1. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)

Description of proposal

A proposal to investigate the risks of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and consider how best to manage any identified risks.

Agreed action

The Environment Agency, with HSE, is conducting an RMOA which will make recommendations on how to manage the identified risks of using PFAS. The appropriate authorities intend to act on the recommendations in the RMOA, when published, which may indicate that a restriction is the most appropriate option to control any identified risks.

Primary hazards

Various hazards depending on the sub-group of PFAS: persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic (PBT).


PFAS are a large group of synthetic chemicals, consisting of several thousand individual substances. These substances are used in a wide range of product types, such as stain repellents, lubricants, packaging, electronics, and in fire-fighting foams, because they have several desirable technical properties (such as oil resistance, water resistance and low chemical reactivity).

However, their persistence in the environment means any adverse impacts may be difficult to mitigate. Long-term, some PFAS accumulate in living tissue (bioaccumulate) and can significantly affect human health and wildlife by causing cancer, interfering with hormonal systems (endocrine disruption) and some PFAS are toxic to reproduction. Many of those that are not bioaccumulative are still likely to accumulate in surface and ground waters, including drinking water supplies, where removal is difficult. In March 2022 the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) submitted a proposal under EU REACH to restrict PFAS in firefighting foams. Several EU member states also intend to submit a broader proposal in January 2023 to restrict the manufacture, placing on the market and use of PFAS. Between December 2021 and January 2022, HSE conducted a call for evidence as part of the ongoing RMOA on PFAS under UK REACH. This provided an opportunity for interested parties to provide technical and socio-economic information on PFAS and inform development of the RMOA. Other areas of developing policy will also contribute to the RMOA, such as the work on persistent, mobile and toxic (PMT) substances.

The recommendations from the RMOA will be published on the HSE website in summer 2022, which may indicate that a restriction is an appropriate measure to control the identified risks. The appropriate authorities, with HSE, will consider the recommendations as soon as possible after publication.

2 Intentionally added microplastics

Description of proposal

A proposal to investigate the risks of intentionally added microplastics.

Agreed action

An evidence project to review emissions of intentionally added microplastics and the risks they pose (both to human health and the environment), including a socio-economic assessment.

Primary hazards

While there is some uncertainty regarding the hazards involved, intentionally added microplastics are likely to be persistent in the environment and cause physical obstruction. They may also contain chemical hazards from additives in the plastics and absorb pollutants in the environment.


Intentionally added microplastics are often added to products, such as paints, infill material on sports pitches, and detergents, to serve a specific purpose. However, the risks that microplastics pose are not well characterised. Existing concerns relate mainly to environmental risks, but more recent studies suggest there are also risks to human health.

Some uses of intentionally added microplastics are already regulated within the UK. During 2018 and 2019 the four UK administrations separately introduced bans on microbeads in certain wash-off personal care products and cosmetics  (which sometimes contain microbeads as exfoliants).

In January 2019 a proposal was submitted under EU REACH to ban the placing on the market of microplastics as a substance, on its own or in a mixture in a concentration equal to or greater than 0.01% weight for weight (w/w). Both the Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) and Committee for Socio-economic Analysis (SEAC) under EU REACH agreed that introducing a restriction was the most appropriate measure to address the risks.

The Environment Agency submitted comments on behalf of several government bodies in response to the consultation on the 2019 EU proposal for restricting microplastics supporting the application of the precautionary principle (considering risk reduction measures when the risk is uncertain). They also stated that any measures adopted on this basis must be proportionate, based on cost-benefit analysis, and subject to review when new information becomes available. Defra will commission an evidence project to assess the scale of the risks and identify the most effective measures to address them in the short to medium term.  It will also help identify wider evidence gaps that need to be addressed in the longer term to support a more strategic approach to managing intentionally added microplastics.

Substances not considered a priority in 2022 to 2023

3  Restriction of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in rubber crumb used for synthetic sports pitches

Description of proposal

A proposal to restrict the placing on the market of rubber granules and mulches as infill material on synthetic turf sports pitches or in loose form on playgrounds.

Primary hazards



Rubber crumb, used in sports pitches, is often produced from end-of-life tyres. There was a concern in the EU that this could lead to rubber crumb containing high levels of PAHs, leading to a risk for users of synthetic turf pitches and some playgrounds.

Entry 50 of Annex XVII under UK REACH already restricts the use of extender oils in the production of rubber tyres if they contain more than 1 milligram per kilogram (mg/kg) of some PAHs (and 10mg/kg in total). Substances classed as category 1A or 1B carcinogens (known or presumed carcinogenic in humans) and listed under appendix 1 or 2 (including PAHs) are also restricted under entry 28 of Annex XVII.

In 2022, an amendment to entry 50 of the Annex XVII of EU REACH came into force limiting PAHs to 20mg/kg in granules or mulches used as infill material in synthetic turf pitches or in loose form on playgrounds or in sport applications. The amendment applies from 10 August 2022.

A study conducted by Sport England and submitted to the public consultation on the ECHA restriction found that 95% of the material in use within the UK falls within the limit set in the 2022 amended entry 50 of Annex XVII under EU REACH. A study conducted for the ECHA restriction dossier similarly found that most pitches across the EU (and including the UK) are already compliant with the restriction.

In 2020 the Sports Pitch Construction Association (SAPCA) introduced a code of practice setting a concentration limit of 20mg/kg in rubber infill material manufactured by its members. The aim is to reduce the use of infill material that is non-compliant with the concentration limits set by the EU restriction. SAPCA continues to work closely with the UK government on this issue.

The effectiveness of existing restrictions on PAHs and the precautionary measures taken by the sports sector means this is not a priority for action this year. However, the appropriate authorities will continue to consider whether a restriction under UK REACH may be required when setting priorities in future work programmes, should evidence suggest the voluntary code is not being adhered to.

The full work programme can be viewed here : (Rationale for prioritising substances in the UK REACH work programme, 2022 to 2023 – GOV.UK (

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

The EC adopts revised recommendation on the use of PEFs

Product Environmental Footprints (PEF) are the method of environmental life cycle analysis that the European Commission has developed for products and services being placed onto the European market.  The PEF method measures and communicates  the environmental performance of goods, services and organisations across their whole lifecycle. They cover 16 environmental impacts, including climate change, and impacts related to water, air, resources, land use and toxicity, and give a comparison of environmental performances between similar products and companies active in similar sectors.

ESTC is currently working with the European Commission to establishing the Category Rules that will describe how PEFs for synthetic turf surfaces should be calculated, a project which is funded under the LIFE programme of the EU.

Last week, the Commission adopted a revised Recommendation on the use of PEFs. Announcing the new Recommendation the Commission stated that using PEFs will help companies to calculate their environmental performance based on reliable, verifiable, and comparable information, and for other actors, such as public administrations, NGOs and businesses to have access to such information. It will incentivise industry to manufacture products that have a better environmental performance, helping the EU’s European Green Deal and circular economy ambitions.

Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Oceans, Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “The EU Environmental Footprint (PEF) methods are the most reliable, comparable and verifiable way to know the real environmental footprint of a product or organisation to date. Europeans are increasingly aware of their own environmental footprint, and many want to make environmentally friendly choices in their daily lives. These methods will help to improve environmental performance and help achieve a truly clean and circular economy”.

Full details about the new EC recommendation can be found on :