From tyres to football pitches. Why the microplastics ban misses the mark on the EU’s circular economy.
The European Recycling Industries’ Confederation (EuRIC) strongly rejects an EU proposal that will indirectly ban materials from tyres as part of its effort to eradicate microplastics. The matter is to be discussed by the European Commission on the 23rd September 2022, and the final outcome will be known by the year-end, but currently, the prognosis is not good for crumb rubber infill.
Each year around Millions of tyres are processed for recycling annually – that is one tyre for every three EU citizens. This rubber from recycled tyres has a wide range of everyday benefits that may not always be obvious – including essential materials for artificial football pitches, children’s playgrounds, and filling potholes.
“Under the current proposal more than 50,000,0000 unrecycled tyres may pile up or are at risk of being exported outside the EU for incineration where environmental standards are less stringent. A one-size-fits-all approach is not the smart climate policy that we expect from the EU,” says Emmanuel Katrakis, Secretary General of EuRIC.
The proposed ban has unintended consequences for the environment and the economy and EuRIC touches upon just a few of the possible outcomes.
According to EuRIC, combined with stringent risk management measures to limit microplastic release practiced by leading organisations such as FIFA, a REACH-compliant circular economy for tyres already exists in the EU; this prevents a staggering 371,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions from damaging an already fragile climate. This is equivalent to the amount of CO2 absorbed by forests 14 times the size of Brussels. It also puts at risk almost 70 million EUR in turnover to Europe’s already struggling economy. Therefore, European recyclers strongly urge the EU to reconsider the value of this material from recycling as outside the scope of the proposed microplastic definition.