Synthetic turf used in sports fields

Information about the issues involved in the use of synthetic turf in sports fields.

The design and use of synthetic turf on community sporting fields and any environmental impacts are assessed as part of the planning process under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979

Local councils are usually the consent authority for approving developments under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.  Councils are also the appropriate regulatory authority under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 for pollution issues caused by the installation or use of synthetic turf.

The potential impact of microplastics and the chemical components of synthetic turf on NSW waterways and soils is not well understood. Work is needed to understand potential risks, to determine appropriate mitigation measures, and if needed, develop guidance material for local councils and those responsible for community sports fields.

The NSW Department of Planning, Industry, and Environment (DPIE) recently commissioned a study into the use of synthetic alternatives to natural turf in public open spaces. The findings and recommendations of the study will be reviewed by the EPA to inform future programs and actions.

Products used to control or eliminate pests in synthetic turf such as weeds, moss, algae and bacteria, are assessed and approved for use by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). The APVMA decides how these chemical products can be used to ensure that people and the environment are protected from harm. It is the role of the EPA to regulate the use of pesticides in NSW.

There are limited recycling options for synthetic turf in Australia, so worn out fields need to be disposed of to landfill in accordance with the EPA’s Waste Classification Guidelines. However, recycling and other reuse applications in dedicated facilities are now being used in Europe and there is an opportunity for industry to explore this in Australia.

More information

If you have an environmental concern or complaint, contact the EPA Environment Line on 131 555 or at

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