Every year, approximately 150 million tires are processed for recycling in Europe. This rubber from recycled tires has several useful applications, including being a crucial component of the artificial turf used in playgrounds,football fields, and road construction.

The European Recycling Industries Federation (EuRIC), the Spanish Federation for Recovery and Recycling (FER), and the Collective Management System for End-of-Life Tyres in Spain (SIGNUS) have all issued statements warning of the significant consequences of the European Commission's proposal to ban the use of rubber crumb, a byproduct of tyres that have reached the end of their useful lives, on artificial turf fields without taking into account alternative, equally effective policies with less negative environmental effects.

“This problem is not being considered from the perspective of sustainability, which includes not only environmental aspects, but also economic and social ones”, SIGNUS' managing director, Gabriel Leal, emphasized. On the other hand, he wanted to point out that, “with the prohibition of the use of this material the problem is not solved, since the release of microplastics from the filament of the artificial grass itself will be greater, as shown in the results of the monitoring of the field that they are doing in Ribeira (A Coruña)”.

EuRIC’s Secretary General Emmanuel Katrakis highlighted that, “with the current proposal, more than the 10,000,000 tyres that are used in Spain for this application would not be destined to become recycled products and may accumulate or risk being exported outside the EU for incineration, where environmental standards are less stringent. A one-size-fits-all approach is not the effective climate policy we expect from the EU”.

Ion Olaeta, president of FER, commented that, “if the European Commission prohibits the use of recycled rubber from tyres at the end of their useful life on this type of sports surface, it will generate an environmental problem much greater than the one intended to be avoided,”

With this being said, without recycling options, we would end up with a lot of tyres, without recycling alternatives.

EuRIC strongly rejects an EU proposal that will indirectly ban materials from tyres as part of its effort to eradicate microplastics. The matter is to be discussed by the European Commission on the 23rd September 2022, and the final outcome will be known by the end of the year, but currently, the prognosis is not good for crumb rubber infill.