A sedentary lifestyle has become one of our biggest national health problems, linked to a number of diseases and early death. That's why it's more important than ever that we take part in sports and exercise. There are 600,000 organised players of all ages within football alone, making it our biggest national sport. It used to be a summer sport only, but thanks to our all-weather pitches, we can now play football outdoors almost all year-round.
All-weather pitches consist of 'artificial grass', which is filled with a material to give the pitch support, 'give' and softness. The most common material used is granules of rubber from recycled tyres. Most recently, there has been concern that this material could be hazardous to health when used in artificial grass as a filler, but this has now been disproven in a brand-new EU report.
Producing tyres is a resource-intensive process. That's why it's important that we deal with worn-out tyres, and reuse the material in different ways. In principle, all tyres sold in Sweden are collected, a unique and excellent result for recycling, and an effective manner of gaining access to a high-tech material.
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) recently released a report (read it in full at sdab.se), which evaluated the use of recycled tyre rubber as a filler in all-weather pitches. The conclusion is that the risks linked to all-weather pitches is usually very small, both for the players on the pitch and those maintaining them.
We think it's worthwhile that the EU undertakes this type of thorough investigation. A large number of studies have previously been performed on the materials from recycled tyres, all of which indicate that they are safe for health and beneficial to the environment. A lifecycle analysis performed by Luleå Technical University also showed that all-weather pitches using tyre rubber have less impact on the environment during their lifecycle than other pitch types.
We welcome and support more research into how recycled tyres can best be used. By recycling rubber, we reduce the need to produce new material, and this help save the world's resources.
Giving everyone access to exercise is important. We will therefore encourage local politicians and decision-makers to build more sports facilities, including more all-weather pitches with cost-effective and durable tyre rubber. Sweden's football players: keep on playing. There is no hazard to health playing sports on artificial grass, but there is if you lead a sedentary lifestyle.