EU Commission Bans Crumb Rubber Infill
A new Regulation (EU 2023/2055) from the European Union (EU) Commission will prohibit the sale of microplastics and of products to which they have been intentionally added and which release the plastic particles during use.
This move addresses concerns about the use of crumb rubber in sports fields, which initially centered on the PAH content. Research revealed elevated PAH levels, even after reductions, prompting further investigation. The European Chemicals Agency’s Risk Assessment Committee expanded the definition of microplastics to include any polymer under 5mm, encompassing most crumb rubber infill.
The new regulation includes tire-derived recycled rubber granular material used as infill in artificial sports pitches. The European Recycling Industries’ Confederation (EuRIC) estimates that recycled rubber accounts for 80 percent of the total infill used.
The EU Regulation became effective October 17.
For crumb rubber infill, the ban takes effect after eight years, allowing transition time for pitch owners and managers.
The ban on rubber granules underwent a thorough consultation process, and neither the EU Parliament nor the Council raised any objections.
The ban comes into force in 2031 after the 8-year transition period to ensure that existing synthetic turf fields containing polymeric infills can continue to be used and maintained until they reach end-of-life.
The Commission stressed, “it will not be necessary to “eliminate” sports fields that already exist when this period is over, even if they contain microplastics, since the ban is limited to the sale of new materials. “
From 2031 only natural performance infill materials will be permitted for use in synthetic turf systems.
EuRIC warned in a position paper earlier this year of “catastrophic consequences” for tire recycling if the ban was introduced without measures to create alternative markets for recycled rubber material derived from ELTs.
Another concern is the lack of EU legislation prioritizing migration and emission-based measurement methods over total chemical content, EuRIC said. Such an evidence-based scientific approach would secure existing markets and greatly facilitate the development of new end-markets for recycled rubber.
© Scrap Tire News, November 2023