On 9th March a 56 RAC Meeting was held on "Intenionally added Microplastics", to discuss and approve a Supplementary opinion on CEN technical report 17519.

The opinion was requested by the Commission in light of the publication of CEN TR 17519 on Risk Management Measures and the Study of Magnusson & Mácsik (2020) showing that an appropriate combination of RMM can reduce infill releases into the environment to ≤7 g/m2, and potentially to 2 g/m2.

Despite the encouraging new information available the supplementary opinion will not have any impact on the previous RAC opinion. There are still concerns that remain on the side of RAC members, that however do not seem logical.

For instance RAC does not endorse the level of <7 g/m2/year (equivalent to 50 kg/full-sized pitch/year) as an acceptable threshold, as this on its own still implies substantial releases to the environment on a continuing basis: amounting to 1.600 tonnes /year across the EU.

It should be recalled that the reason underpining the ban by RAC was the estimation (questionable) of 16.000 tonnes of infill material released per year into the enviroment. There are serious doubts about the accuracy of this calculation as these quantiies have not been mesaured on site, but even if it would be true, we cannot understand how it would be considered safer to continue such dispersion for the six years of the transition period leading to the ban, corresponding to an overall dispersione of 96.000, instead of cutting them down to 1.600 tonnes /year, which will require 60 years to produce the same impact that the ban reachs in only 6 years.

Another concern has to do with individual behaviour. RAC affirms that, under normal conditions of use, infill loss to the environment after implementing the RMMs described in CEN TR 17519 will be <7 g/m2/year, but are unlikely to be as low as 2 g/m2/year in all cases as the effectiveness of RMMs are reliant on individual behaviour (i.e. cleaning of shoes/clothing and maintenance equipment) and is unlikely to be as high as claimed. Even the effectiveness of vehicle seat belts depends on their correct use, but no one has ever thought of banning cars, deciding instead to carry out more checks where necessary.

It could easily be objected that Sport includes, among the others, education, discipline, team spirit, belonging to a community, respect of the rules, etc.. It seems that our politicians and institutions do not believe in the future and have already given up to create and defend the conditions of a better and responsible living together. They enter into the discussion and they are not sure of what role to play. If politicians seem unwilling to engage in this issue, RAC, on the other hand, who shouldn't be an expert on human behavior and social decisions, seems willing to play more roles and make political choices.

So we will have many players but we do not know if we will have a field on which to play, with which rules.


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