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SAPCA - Technical Bulletin

17 December 2021

Here is the latest edition of SAPCA's Technical Bulletin.

SAPCA Technical Meeting – 2 December 2021

SAPCA Technical MeetingThe strong programme of sessions provided great insight to a wide range of important technical topics – from environmental sustainability and diversity in sports facility design to the latest university research. It was also the first Technical Meeting in which we had speakers presenting both on-site and online.

The presentations from each session can be accessed here.

The day was expertly chaired by SAPCA Technical chair, Professor David James, who said: “Key to the success of this month's Technical Meeting was the very strong programme, which focused on the big issues of the day for the industry, particularly the current challenges of environmental sustainability.

"The diverse range of expert speakers – many of whom spoke at the event for the first time – was exceptional, and no doubt the main reason we had such a large and highly engaged audience for the day."

We want to thank all speakers and delegates that made it to Loughborough – it was a great event and a fantastic showcase of the knowledge, passion and talent in our industry.

UK AGP Stakeholder Group

SAPCA is a member of the AGP (artificial grass pitch) Stakeholder Group, which held its latest meeting in September 2021.

As well as commenting on the European Chemicals Agency's (ECHA) restrictions around microplastics, the group also discussed the impact of environmental issues from a UK perspective. A key issue here has been the formation of UK REACH (on 1 January 2021) – a replacement for ECHA in the UK – as a result of Brexit. The group held discussions on how the new agency would impact on UK restrictions, as they no longer automatically run in tandem with those in the EU.

There was also a discussion around the updated "FAQs on 3G turf", which are due to be published in early 2022. Linked to this is an agreed position statement, which sits alongside the FAQs as a guide for the marketplace and includes a response to concerns regarding the use of polymeric infills and potential microplastic migration into the environment.

The group will meet again in January 2022. As well as SAPCA, the group includes representation from government (DCMS and DEFRA), individual UK sports councils, governing bodies of sports, the Football Foundation, the Premier League and the GMA.

SAPCA's involvement in the Stakeholder Group is another example of how we engage effectively with key industry organisations in a collaborative way – and how our technical input and role within the industry is seen as valuable and important.

An update on EN 15330
(Surfaces for sports areas - Synthetic turf and needle-punched surfaces primarily designed for outdoor use)

EN 15330 Image of Synthetic TurfEuropean Committee for Standardization's (CEN) Working Group 6 is currently working on an update on EN 15330 (Surfaces for sports areas - Synthetic turf and needle-punched surfaces primarily designed for outdoor use).

Part 4 of EN 15330 - regarding the material standard for shockpads - was published in 2021 and Part 5 (to do with the materials standard for infills) has now been completed and will be published in 2022.

The periodic review of Part 1 - which deals with sports performance - has been ongoing this year and will continue into 2022. It will see the addition of new sports that are played on synthetic turf, such as padel and lacrosse.

It is likely that Part 6 - which deals with the materials standard for synthetic turf and specifically considers issues around the wear of yarn and its potential impact as a microplastic - will also be reviewed during 2022.

SAPCA and its members are directly involved in developing these standards, representing the UK industry.

New SAPCA Codes of Practice
Published During 2021

Code of Practice Cover

2021 has been a busy year in the development of new and updated Codes of Practice (CoP), with a number of documents completed during the year - and more to come in 2022. In total, we have published three new codes and updated one, with one more update to be published shortly.

The new codes are:

  • The CoP for the selection and use of Sports Performance Infills in 3G artificial turf (published in February 2021)
  • The CoP for the construction of Padel courts (published in March 2021)
  • The CoP for the construction of MUGAs (published in September 2021)
  • The CoP for athletics tracks (published in December 2021)
  • The CoP for fencing (to be completed by the end of the year)

Among the codes that will be updated in 2022 is the Code of Practice for the Maintenance of Synthetic Surfaces. The work will update the existing guidance and, more importantly, will also highlight the need for more sustainable working practices in the maintenance of facilities. It will also include additional guidance targeted at the overall management of a facility from an environmental perspective.

Codes of Practice may be viewed here.

SAPCA and Football Foundation Partner for Synthetic Turf Research Project

The synthetic turf industry is facing unprecedented pressure from an environmental perspective, which could have a significant impact on pitch systems and the way they are designed and created. As the industry reacts with new innovations in product design, there will no doubt be a knock-on effect on the cost of the products.

In response, SAPCA has been working on a research project with the Football Foundation in the last months of the year. The joint research project aims to understand the full range of pitch systems that are currently available and the potential impact of using different systems in the construction of pitches both now and in the future.

Using a two-phase approach, the research will include an assessment of what innovation in new system designs are available (Phase 1), and then actually test their suitability through a live site assessment (Phase 2).

The tender to undertake the research was won by Sports Labs, which started work in November. The initial findings will be presented to the Project Steering Group before Christmas, with the final conclusions and life-cycle costings completed by the end of January 2022.

The findings of the research will not only shape Phase 2 of the research, but will also be available to SAPCA members to assist and develop projects in the future.

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