Crumb Rubber Infill Facing Ban In Europe

Last month, the Risk Management Assessment Committee (RAC) of the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) issued an opinion concerning microplastics, biodegradable polymers and rubber infill for artificial turf.

The committee voiced support for restricting the use of intentionally added microplastics and recommended more stringent criteria for biodegradable polymers.

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For use of infill material for artificial turf, RAC recommended a complete ban after a transition period of six years noting that there was incomplete information on the effectiveness of risk management measures. A ban would also be more effective than risk management measures in preventing environmental releases in the long term, RAC said.

RAC’s opinion is part of ECHA’s ongoing process to meet the European Commission’s request to develop a restriction proposal for microplastics that are ‘intentionally added’ to consumer and professional products. ECHA submitted its proposal in January 2019. The report titled “Restriction Proposal on Intentionally Added Microplastics” underwent a six month public opinion period from March 2019 to September 2019.

Crumb CleatsAfter the recently released RAC opinion, the next step is the opinion of ECHA’s Committee for Socio-economic Analysis (SEAC) which is expected in Fall 2020. The final ECHA decision is expected in 2001.

Commenting on RAC’s opinion, the European Tyre Recycling Association (ETRA) said “it will have an impact on the ongoing ECHA process and the final decision, posing serious concerns about the future possibility of using rubber infill materials in artificial turf.”

Further ETRA said, “the RAC opinion, based on a wrong calculation of the actual release of rubber granulate into the environment, is an extreme solution that risks to amplify the problem instead of reducing and then solving it. In this way it has been overestimated the impact of infill material on the total quantity of microplastics released into the environment from other bigger and more dangerous sources.”

For a positive conclusion, ETRA said, a more responsible and cooperative approach from every part involved, is necessary. The issue is serious and time is tight.

By way of background, the restriction proposal was developed in the context of the European Union’s (EU) Plastic Strategy published in 2018, which aims at circular plastics economy and contributes to reaching the 2030 sustainable development goals, the global climate commitments and the EU’s industrial policy objectives.

Sources: ECHA, ETRA

© Scrap Tire News, July 2020