January 2017

Eunomia Investigates – How Green is Football Turf?

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Environmental consultancy, Eunomia, has been appointed by FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) to explore the environmental impacts of its football turf, and to make recommendations that will guide future sustainability-led decision making.

Eunomia’s research will identify the types of artificial football turf used globally, including regional differences, carry out a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to identify the environmental ‘hotspots’ during the product journey and analyse different product end-of-life options.

The project aims include, producing an overview of end of life options available for FIFA Quality Turf, assessing environmental impacts, feasibility and cost. This overview will shape recommendations specific to each region set out in a step by step guide which will become part of FIFA’s Football for the Planet, a best practice programme launched to mitigate the negative impact of FIFA’s activities on the environment.

Eunomia will also explore the issue of plastic pollution in the marine environment from artificial turf during the project. It has recently been identified that the infill material – and to a certain extent the ‘grass’ fibre – is a possible source of what is known as microplastic pollution. These are small (typically <5mm) plastic fragments that can make their way into the marine environment via rainwater runoff into rivers and sewers. A recent Norwegian study quantified the impact from this source at around 3,000 tonnes annually from Norway alone.

Eunomia Consultant and Project Manager, Simon Hann said:

“Artificial turf is increasing in popularity throughout the world and it encouraging to see that FIFA are looking to get to grips with some of the important environmental issues associated with it. We know that the end of life is of particular concern for this growing waste stream and we will be looking to help FIFA to understand the best practice for managing this.”

Eunomia completed a Study to Support the Development of Measures to Combat a  Range of Marine Litter Sources for the European Commission that looked at quantifying other sources of microplastic from products such as cosmetics and tyre wear.