What do amateur clubs and municipalities need to bear in mind in view of the discussion about plastic granules on synthetic turf pitches? DFB.de answers the most important questions and shares advice on environmentally friendly maintenance.
Why the need for a DFB recommendation?
We want to help objectify the debate regarding synthetic turf pitches and provide assistance to users of existing artificial turf pitches, especially those with synthetic granulate as a filler. The aim is to cause a minimum of microplastic discharge (ideally, none at all) from the pitch into the environment.
What is the environmental debate about synthetic turf pitches about?
The European Parliament adopted a "European Strategy for Plastics in the Circular Economy" on 13 September 2018, calling on the Commission to consider and, if necessary, adopt an EU-wide ban on microplastic particles in cosmetics and personal care, detergents, and cleaning products by 2030, among other things. The European Chemical Agency (ECHA) should also evaluate a ban on microplastics that are "intentionally added" to other products and – if deemed necessary and no reasonable alternatives can be found – to initiate moves to ban those altogether. In order to analyse the current situation in the EU Member States, findings from different surveys and studies carried out by the Member States were used. According to the ECHA, plastic granules used to fill synthetic playing surfaces are the largest source of microplastic pollution in sports across the EU, with an estimated discharge of 16,000 tonnes per year. A potential ban would aim to prevent 500,000 tonnes of microplastics from being released into the environment over the next 20 years.
Has a binding law already been passed in Germany?
As of August 2021, there is no ban at federal and state level on the continued use of plastic granulate on existing facilities or on refilling them accordingly if required. The construction of new pitches with plastic granulate is also theoretically still possible. However, for environmental reasons and given the threat of a shortened service life in the event a ban is enforced, it is strongly recommended to use products without plastic granulate. In addition, the great majority of federal states have begun to deny granting financial support for artificial pitches with synthetic granules. As old pitches are converted or new ones constructed, the public sector also predominantly does not consider pitches filled with synthetic granulate.
What types of synthetic turf surfaces are there in Germany?
Mirroring the stages of technological developments, artificial pitches are now divided into three categories:
What kind of soiling can occur?
Leaves, needles, petals, and other plant residues as well as chewing gum residues are among the most common types of soiling that are harmful to the surface. The same applies to earth, mud, dust etc. from adjacent planting and path areas.
What should be observed during maintenance?
How can excessive plastic granulate discharge into the environment be prevented?
For further information about, for example, the definition of microplastics, the materials and substances used for artificial turf pitches, or different types of fillers, check out our brochure DFB ACTION RECOMMENDATION FOR FOOTBALL CLUBS & MUNICIPALITIES###more###