Performance infills for 3G surfaces

Position statement on 3G pitches

This position statement is the result of a collaboration between key stakeholders, including SAPCA, in response to questions and concerns regarding ‘third generation’ (3G) artificial grass pitches

“Third generation or 3G artificial grass pitches are recognised as durable, safe, year-round playing surfaces, able to withstand intensive use and all kinds of weather. They mean more people can benefit from all the associated social and health benefits of physical activity.

“Concerns have, however, been raised about the safety associated with these pitches and their constituent parts, most commonly the presence of rubber crumb. We take these concerns very seriously.

“We have monitored numerous independent scientific studies on this issue, which have reported a very low/negligible level of concern for human health as a result of 3G pitches and rubber crumb.

“Indeed, the European Chemicals Agency has recently published its own findings, following an extensive EU-wide study, and has found no reason to advise people against playing sport on 3G pitches with rubber crumb.

“The Sports and Play Construction Association, the UK trade body for the sports pitch industry, has developed a voluntary industry standard that will provide minimum requirements that go above and beyond what is currently required for rubber crumb under European regulation. Sport England and leading sport governing bodies all support this approach and will continue to work with the industry to provide reassurance that pitches in this country are safe.”

Frequently asked questions

We have worked together with other key stakeholders to produce a series of frequently asked questions on the use of rubber crumb in 3G pitches. These FAQs are provided for general information only.

Click here to download FAQ

The FAQs are based on information, research and material that is currently in the public domain and will be continually kept under review and updated as necessary.

However, the FAQs are not intended to be comprehensive guidance or to replace the need for specialist technical advisors on specific sites/projects or concerns.

SAPCA’s Quality Control Protocol for Sports Performance Infill

SAPCA’s Quality Control Protocol for Sports Performance Infill has been developed to provide a robust framework of obligations which suppliers and installers need to follow to demonstrate compliance with current legislation and regulatory requirements. The Protocol applies to the use of Sports Performance Infills (SPIs) and has been prepared in conjunction with SAPCA’s member companies and key sports bodies, including Sport England.

Within current European Union legislation, it is already the responsibility of the supplier of the materials (and in some instances the installer and facility owner/operator) to ensure that the material used is compliant. This Protocol aims to prevent the risk of non-compliant material being used and to provide reassurance to facility owners and end users that the supply of SPIs into the UK marketplace follows current regulations and best practice.

The requirements outlined within the Protocol are taken from existing standards and legislation where possible and follow best practice from other countries. The current EU regulations are under review with several organisations undertaking research to potentially update the requirements in the future. SAPCA may update the Protocol should new requirements be introduced, and therefore reserves the right to change the Protocol at any time.

SAPCA now invites manufacturers and suppliers of Sports Performance Infill to apply to have their materials included on SAPCA’s register of compliant infill products. From 1 August 2019 SAPCA will publish a list of compliant Sports Performance Infills, which will be available to view here on the SAPCA website.

Which Sports Performance Infills does the Protocol cover?

The Protocol covers ALL polymeric and organic SPIs that are to be used in a synthetic turf system as the performance layer (normally the upper layer). It does not include uncoated sand infills that may be used as the stabilising infill in longer pile (3G) synthetic turf systems or as performance/stabilising infill within short pile (2G) synthetic turf surfaces.

If different grades of an SPI are manufactured from exactly the same material and using the same production process, each grade of the SPI may be entered on to SAPCA list providing that at least one grade from the family is subjected to the testing requirements of this Protocol. If the chemical composition of two SPIs differ in any way (including differences in coatings), they are not considered to be a family and will be treated as separate SPIs.

Who may apply to place a product on the SAPCA register?

Applications to place an SPI on the SAPCA register may be made by the manufacturer of the SPI or their distributor. If an application is made by a distributor it must be done with the support and endorsement of the manufacturer, who must demonstrate compliance with the requirements of this Protocol, and confirm that they accept responsibility for the ongoing testing of the SPI in accordance with the Protocol. The manufacturer of the SPI must operate a quality management system for the production of the SPI.

Application procedure

Any manufacturer or distributor that wishes to make an application to register a product (or products) through the SAPCA Protocol should, in the first instance, fill in and submit the form here.