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Artificial (3G) pitches

Pitch In

Artificial (3G) pitches are increasingly popular, but few are aware that the little black bits on their surface are microplastics. This plastic can escape into surrounding soil and waterways. These plastics are usually made from ground-up old tyres (called rubber crumb) and contain harmful chemicals that leach out worsening their impact on ecosystems. Our Pitch In project explains how we can prevent pollution from these pitches.

Fidra Pitches

Microplastic can easily escape pitches ending up in the environment


Artificial pitches are a big source of microplastic pollution, up to ~1,800 tonnes of plastic are estimated to be lost from pitches in Scotland each year.

Once off the pitch microplastic can build up in nearby soils, in local waters or gets washed down drains ending up at sea.

Microplastics have been found in the stomachs of fish in rivers near 3G pitches and can leach harmful chemicals and toxic heavy metals into the environment.

Once in the environment microplastic can build up in nearby soils and end up in local waterways


Artificial Pitches can be microplastic free! Alternative infills such as cork, or coconut husk can create a great playing surface.

Where microplastic is still used on pitches simple barriers and filters in drains can minimise pollution.

Changes to pitch maintenance can stop microplastic escaping and raising awareness with users can reduce losses on pitch and through drains in showers.

The rubber crumb infill can also leach harmful chemicals and toxic heavy metals into the environment. Photo by Plastic Free Seas


We are asking governments to ban the use of crumb rubber infill on artificial sports surfaces, as the European Chemical Agency Recommends.

We are asking pitch owners to consider opting for natural grass pitches, organic infills, or non-infill pitches when planning to build or refurbish a pitch.

Where microplastic is still used, we are asking maintenance teams and pitch users to follow our best practice guidelines to stop microplastic loss.

The infill layer on artificial pitches is unnecessarily made of microplastics, it doesn’t need to be


To show pitch owners the benefits of using alternatives materials we have published a case study of a pitch using alternative infill.

Fidra and our partner KIMO have published comprehensive best practice guidelines to help those in charge of pitches reduce microplastic loss.

 Fidra and KIMO have created a community toolkit with activities, resources and information to raise awareness for local communities.