Position Statement: New '3G' Sports Pitches

The following outlines our position on proposed 3G sports pitches within Bath and NE Somerset in general.

We are opposed to ‘rubber crumb’ and similar 3G pitches being installed.

The rubber crumb normally used as infill in each artificial pitch consists of about 20,000 end-of-life tyres, ground into 120 tonnes of crumb and dust, with more used as support layers. The grass blades are made from virgin plastic equivalent to 1,400,000 plastic bags. Each 3G pitch weighs about 220 tonnes. There are already around 5,000 of these pitches in the UK.

Many of these 3G pitches replace existing artificial turf, thus generating even more tons of plastic waste which is unlikely to be recycled.

Over 95% of the 3G pitches in the EU and UK are made from shredded car tyres, despite these being a known source of toxins and carcinogens. This is largely down to the lobbying efforts of the car tyre recycling industry who are keen to find a way to dispose of the mountains of waste generated by personal car transport.

As the 3G pitches have a relatively short life-span of about ten years, they will be removed and replaced with more rubber and plastic. Even if some of this is recycled, it will still exist in our world in some form or another, breaking down into tinier and tinier micro-plastics which will continue to pollute and poison the environment, with largely unknown future health consequences.

The Green Party will always favour natural grass surfaces for many reasons, and not just the amount of plastic and toxic waste in artificial surfaces. Grass pitches provide at least some habitat for invertebrates and therefore a food supply for animals that feed on them. With sensitive management grass pitches can sustain a surprisingly large variety of plant and animal life. While an artificial pitch may be more hard-wearing, any cost-benefits of this are usually down to paying less for maintenance. However, this largely ignores the cost to society - not usually paid by the owners of the pitch - of having to deal with the hundreds of tones of plastic waste when the pitch wears out.

We should keep green spaces, and this includes playing fields, as natural and biodiverse as we can, even where this might be less ‘convenient’ for some users.