Limits on Microplastic: German Sport Associations Call for Longer Transition Period

The German Olympic Sports Confederation (Deutscher Olympischer Sportbund: DOSB) and the German Football Association (Deutscher Fußballbund: DFB) have issued a position paper (German only) that criticizes the upcoming ban on the use of plastic granules for synthetic turf and calls for a transition period of at least six years.

In January 2019, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) published the Annex XV Restriction Report that suggested restricting microplastic according to Annex XV of REACH (1907/2006/EC). The report calls for the regulation to prohibit the marketing of “intentionally added” microplastics as of 2021. However, the ECHA does support longer transition periods for some usages. However, the agency did not suggest a longer period for artificial turf granules because the sector did not provide it with any information during development of the report.

The sporting associations have now reacted and call for a six-year transition period. The time is needed, they say, to overhaul the more than 6,000 installations of artificial turf in Germany. Faster implementation of a ban would force the closure of many sports facilities.

What happens now? Public consultation on the ECHA restriction proposal runs until September. In the upcoming months, the risk assessment committee (RAC) and the socio-economic analysis committee (SEAC) will respond to the proposal.

The granules are seen as critical (German only) because an estimated 95% of the fill material is from recycled tires that contain polycyclic-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), some of which are classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic, or toxic to reproduction. That’s why last year, the ECHA worked with the Netherlands to develop a proposal on limiting the concentration of eight PAHs.

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