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.