The European Commission will not decide before April 2022 whether it will ban the sale of polymeric infill for use in synthetic turf or allow the material to be used providing mitigating measures will be taken.
A ban on the sale of microplastics should help the European Union saving millions of tonnes of microplastic pollution. According to the definition the EC uses, polymeric infill like SBR, TPE and EPDM are also considered being a microplastic. The European Chemical Agency, the EU agency that manages the technical and administrative aspects of the implementation of the European Union regulation that addresses the production and use of chemical substances (called Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) has even gone as far as calling polymeric infill from third generation synthetic turf being the single biggest contributor to microplastic pollution.
Initially, the EC had planned to vote on the proposed plan to ban the sale of additionally added microplastics from 2028, in September last year. However, strong opposition from the synthetic turf industry as well as authorities pointing out the need for third generation synthetic turf to provide sufficient field capacity for people to participate in sports has likely contributed to discontent amongst some of the members. In the absence of a suitable alternative to replace third generation synthetic turf, an outright ban of the sale of polymeric infill could also threated the future of several sports including football and rugby. FIFA and World Rugby have yet to de decide about how the quality and performance of so-called non-filled surfaces, synthetic turf fields that don’t use any infill at all, is to be conducted. It is anticipated that FIFA will release the updated manuals later this year.