Turin, Italy – Recycled rubber is ‘the perfect scapegoat,’ believes a sports facilities expert, commenting on EU moves to ban use of the material as infill for synthetic turf.
Such a ban "would be a greenwashing with no real effect on the reduction of microplastics,” said Bruno Marabotto, a former senior manager at Turin Municipality’s sports centre construction unit.
The European Chemical Agency (ECHA) proposal would also have "serious negative implications on a sound, real solution within a circular economy ," added the facility-design specialist.
Marabotto’s comments follows a 10 June recommendation by the ECHA Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) to ban all ‘microplastics’ infills due to possible environmental releases from sports areas.
“A football player weighs 80kg, runs on synthetic grass infilled with 16 kg/sqm of recycled rubber granulate at a speed of 30 km/hour. That player does not produce microplastics at all,” said Marabotto.
The industry expert went on to say that styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) granules from recycled tires are “the best material” for infill and “an excellent case for circular economy.”
The RAC decision, Marabotto reminded, is not the first time the synthetic turf industry has been targeted for its use of recycled rubber granules.
Unresearched headlines about 'carcinogenic fields' and claims of harmful levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons have overshadowed the artificial turf industry, he noted.
And since 2018, he said, the EU has been discussing synthetic turf under the context of reducing microplastics in the environment. Artificial turf is the “perfect escape goat” here.
With a strong note of sarcasm, Marabotto concluded: “While they are at it, they might as well investigate if rubber granules from end-of-life tires are the main cause of Covid-19.”