Germany to study micro plastics issue


The German Olympic Committee (DOSB) and the German Football Association (DFB) have set up a working group to study the possible effects of synthetic turf on the environment.
Altogether, Germany has approximately 6,000 municipal and sports fields made of synthetic turf.  Every year 300 new synthetic fields are added to this list while 150 fields are renovated. The DOSB has 101 affiliates who have over 27,4 million members in nearly 90,000 gymnastics and sports clubs while the DFB has 7 million members in almost 25,000 clubs.
The proposal submitted by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to ban the use of rubber and plastic infill in third generation synthetic turf fields from 2021, has made it clear to the DOSB and DFB that an inventory and subsequent communication on easy-to-implement measures for sports clubs and municipalities is required as quickly as possible. The communication activities the German governing bodies intend to introduce should help to significantly reduce the discharge of plastic into the environment.
In addition to the need for such recommendations for action, the working group noted that there is an urgent need for further scientific expertise on the practical suitability of alternative organic fillers and on the suitability of synthetic turf surfaces for all types of sports, even without fillers.
The response by the DSOB and DFB follows hot on the heels of claims by the Fraunhofer Institute that the 3,000 synthetic turf fields in Germany they had documented, collectively shed 11,000 tonnes rubber or plastic granulate annually.
The DOSB and DFB are not against the proposed ban on plastic or rubber infill but advocate that a transitional period of at least six years will be required to implement the proposed ban. The transition period is necessary in order to be able to afford the high investments for the renovation of the more than 6,000 synthetic turf fields in Germany without affecting the sports activities on the sports facilities concerned. A precise quantification of the sports facilities affected in Germany by a possible ban is currently not possible, as a reliable data base is missing. Therefore the working group suggests another survey to document nationwide sports facility statistics. The last time this data was collected in Germany was in 2002.

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