On 21st September, Dutch green groups under the umbrella of Recycling Network, took steps towards legal action against sports clubs, local authorities and tyre recyclers in a formal legal complaint against the use of crumb rubber infill in sports fields.
Recycling Network said in a statement that “covering thousands of sports fields with millions of kilos of chopped up tyres is leading to the leaching of a large amount of zinc and other risks to the environment.” This, the organisation said, “is not good recycling but breaking waste disposal rules. This is why we have approached the public prosecution department.” The Recycling Network says the environment ministry was warned in 2006 that the concentration of zinc in ground and surface water is breaking formal guidelines.
Every year, some 500,000 kilos of used car tyres are turned into crumb rubber and spread on sports fields in the Netherlands. Last December, public health body RIVM said taking part in sports on artificial turf pitches which include crumb rubber made from old tyres is not a health hazard. Only a very small amount of dangerous chemicals in the crumb – namely heavy metals, black carbon, and oils that contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – are released during sport and the risk to health is negligible.
In spite of this, the organisation recommended that the current standards for crumb rubber should be toughened up. Currently sports pitches meet industrial standards but not those set for consumers. The rules governing the use of crumb rubber should be brought more into line with consumer protection levels, the RIVM said.