The European Commission has put on hold a decision on whether or not to ban the use of rubber from end-of-life tires in synthetic turf and shock-absorbing play surfaces. The EC-PAH Restriction on Consumer Products Regulation 1272/2013, which came into force at the end of 2015, bans the sale of articles containing 1mg/kg of listed PAHs from “skin contact” applications. The measure is an extension of the REACH chemical safety regulations.

The European Comission on the synthetic turf ‘ban’A statement by the EC Directorate-General (DG) for Environment and DG for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SME’s Consumer, Environmental and Health Technologies noted that various interpretations have arisen on whether or not the restriction applied to rubber infill used in synthetic turf and to rubber tiles placed on the market for use in public places.

The statement, issued 21 Dec, concluded: “The Commission is currently examining the legal interpretation of entry 50(5) of Annex XVII of REACH in relation to rubber infill material and tiles that are intended to be installed by professionals in places accessible to the general public and will communicate its conclusions within the shortest possible time. Until the matter is clarified, it is up to the Member States to determine enforcement measures and their priority on the restriction in relation to rubber granules in turf and to rubber flooring being placed on the market for installation in public places.”

The announcement followed talks between member states and stakeholders in Brussels on 12-13 Nov, which revealed differing views on the scope of the new ban. According to the EC statement, suppliers of these rubber-based products had argued to that these products were not directly sold to the general public. On the other hand, it was also added that several companies have argued that they had made substantial investments in alternative technologies on the basis that these products were covered by the restriction.

Industry groups, meanwhile, have argued that research has found that recycled rubber posed no risk in these applications and that that a ban would decimate a market that provides an outlet for almost 50 percent of all recycled tire rubber in Europe.

The European Tyre and Rubber Manufacturers’ Association, for example, estimates that over 15 000 sports fields use artificial turf in Europe and around 560kt of rubber granules obtained from end-of-life tires are used in making infill for synthetic turf and rubber tiles every year.

Article source: European Rubber Journal