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January 11, 2021Football Pitches Made From Recycled Tyres

As an approved fixture for sports matches and great surface in all weather conditions, it comes as no surprise that artificial turf is fast becoming a serious substitute for real grass.

Football Pitches Made From Recycled Tyres

Not only does it require less maintenance but it’s a surface that’s always ready for action – making it perfect for its purpose. So, this month, Treadfirst will be taking a look at the impact of these plastic pitches.

Fidra’s Pitch In project

Although it’s great that we’re able to repurpose old plastics and tyres, Fidra’s Pitch In project looks at how we can tackle the spread of microplastic pollution from pitches. So in order to prevent the transference of microplastics into the wider environment, this project raises awareness of how you can take care – such as brushing your boots down before leaving the pitch and various other methods to encourage plastic pitch owners to take important precautions.

What are artificial turf infills made of?

There are various types of artificial grass infills but the most common is crumb rubber. Crumb rubber is an artificial turf infill that comes from old automotive tyres that have been shredded and smoothed down to ensure it’s child and pet-safe.

Tyre artificial pitch infill is used more than sand, stone and pea gravel because it is softer and safer than its alternative fillers.

So should you notice back granules in your boots after playing on turf, it’s likely that it’s ground-up bits of tyres, also referred to as styrene-butadiene rubber or crumb rubber. It is used to provide cushioning to the pitch and make a stale base for the plastic grass to remain in place and upright. 


Is tyre pitch infill a plastic pollution problem?

Over the years, concerns have been voiced about the health impacts of end-of-life tyre pitch infill and that, when extended beyond the pitch, a microplastic pollution concern too. 


What evidence do we have?

The European Chemical Agency (ECHA) research in 2017 found that these types of outdoor pitches have very low health risks but there are things you can do to reduce concern, and this includes:

  • Wash hands after playing on the pitch and before eating
  • Clean all cuts and scrapes caused on the pitch
  • Dust down boots and take off kit before going home
  • Do not eat granules from the pitch!

Since ECHA’s 2017 report, there has been follow-up research to look into reducing the use of chemicals, even more, particularly polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The ECHA’s committee continues to review the concentration of chemicals.

As for the microplastic pollution concerns – after finding pitch infill in waterways and nearby soils, it was estimated that 72,000 tonnes of microplastics find their way out of a pitch each year across Europe. To reduce this amount of microplastic pollution each year, Best Practice Guidelines have been put into place, and this covers its use, design and management. 

Should recycled tyre pitches be put back on the bench?

Apollo Tyres and Manchester United expanded their sponsorship and created a ‘Go The Distance’ community pitch. This first recycled rubber pitch opened in 2014 outside Old Trafford, was made with 10 tonnes (the equivalent of 2200 tyres) of worn rubber to create an impressive, state-of-the-art surface for the upcoming talent of the next generation.

The initiative has been so successful that Apollo Tyres has set in motion India’s first-ever ‘Go The Distance’ football pitch in Powai, Mumbai. 

By being able to reuse end-of-life tyres, old tyres can be repurposed into something useful instead, rather than being dumped into landfill. There are in fact multiple purposes for old rubber tyres, which includes:

  • Garden mulch
  • Crumb rubber
  • Gravel substitutes
  • Football pitches
  • Fuels

All types of football pitches:

  • Hybrid – consists of 95% natural grass, reinforced with 5% synthetic fibres
  • Synthetic – created from 100% man-made fibres
  • 2G – a sand-based or dressed surface that’s typically less than 24mm in pile height (short and dense)
  • 3G – made from sand and performance infill, long-pile synthetic grass has a pile height between 40mm and 65mm
  • 4G, 5G & 6G – synthetic turf without rubber crumb (filler)

All types of football pitches and their uses:

  • Hybrid – used for high-profile sports matches such as football, rugby, cricket and golf, as they require regular maintenance
  • Synthetic – used at leisure centres, clubs, schools and universities as they’re ideal all year round
  • 2G – used for MUGA (multi-use game areas) for sports such as hockey, tennis and recreational football
  • 3G – used for Gaelic Athletic Association Sports as well as football and rugby
  • 4G, 5G & 6G – are yet to be recognised by governing sports bodies

At Treadfirst, we’re proud to provide the community with a wide range of tyre brands, an honest service and fair prices, so if you’re in need of new tyres get in contact with our friendly team today. Feel free to visit our social media platforms or our gallery to browse through who we are and what we can do. Alternatively, if you need to book your MOT, you can do this online easily by following this link.

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