An online magazine focused on technology and business aspects of synthetic turf fields recently published an article criticising EU's decision to ban crumb rubber infill in artificial turf.

Indeed, this month's announcement by the European Commission that it will recommend a ban on the sale of polymeric infill within six years and ignore the difference so-called risk management measures can make, has been met with disbelief and outright anger by some organisations in the industry.

Dr. Ettore Musacchi, President of the European Tyre Recycling Association (ETRA), says this decision makes no sense.

The magazine reminds that back in the 90s, the introduction of third generation synthetic turf fields, and crumb rubber in particular, was hailed as a solution to the ever-growing problem of what to do with end-of-life tyres.

“It appears as if the ban has the sole aim to stop the sales of a cost effective and most competitive infill material rather than to actually reduce the releases of microplastics,” Dr. Ettore Musacchi says referring to the EC’s decision to remove the option for derogation via risk management methods. The EC considered this to not be viable to meet its reduced emissions objectives despite reports stating the opposite and despite efforts by the industry as well as governing bodies like FIFA and World Rugby to advocate the use of risk management measures.

“We think the Risk Management Measures are an excellent work. The measures have been well designed and communicated. The adoption of these as the EU standard as well as their inclusion in the handbook of FIFA and of World Rugby represented a correct approach. However, we are afraid that these norms were not sufficiently supported from a political point of view.” Here, Musacchi is referring to those who he feels, “followed an emotional approach but without any adequate technical competence, probably in order to satisfy a widespread fear and gather an easy, immediate, consensus, regardless of the effectiveness of the solution.”

Musacchi worries that the prohibition on well-managed infill will merely shift extremely large ELT tonnages to disposal routes lower down the waste hierarchy because Europe produces over 4,200,000 tons of end-of-life tires annually, or about 8 kg per resident. He expresses concern over the export to developing nations in South East Asia in particular, where they are routinely used as low-grade fuel sources and burned in ways that harm the environment.

“Losing the artificial turf market would be a major blow for the industry and the environment. Developing a material or a product from recycling is a slow process. It requires years of efforts. A shortsighted mistake can frustrate it and push us back of 20 years.”

To read about how the issue will be developing and how other industry members reacted on the ban, please read the original article by