Government rule change confirmed on use of carpet in arena surfaces

  • A new Environment Agency ruling affects the use of shredded carpet fibre in riding surfaces. H&H speaks to industry figures to find out their thoughts, and what this means

    Rules on waste carpet being used in riding arena surfaces are changing this year in a move that has been welcomed by the industry.

    The Environment Agency (EA) is changing its guidance on the use of shredded waste carpet in arena surfaces as of 17 June. While carpet fibre can continue to be used in riding arena surfaces, companies providing these surfaces must ensure they comply with the new regulatory controls.

    This is not to be confused with other fibres that are used in many arena surfaces and will continue to be permitted under the new rules.

    Defra, which sponsors the EA and is working with the carpet recycling industry and equestrian surface providers on this matter, confirmed to H&H that there is no requirement at present for existing surfaces containing waste carpet to be removed and replaced.

    The reasoning behind the decision comes from research into persistent organic pollutants and concerns over microplastics.

    Carpet Recycling UK (CRUK), a non-profit trade association set up in 2008 to help the sector to use carpet waste as a resource and divert waste from landfill, was approached by the EA in September and is working with them.

    “Carpet fibre in equestrian surfaces has grown in popularity and volume, as many of your readers will know, and understand there are advantages for using this kind of fibre relating to durability and performance as well as cushioning qualities,” CRUK manager Adnan Zeb-Khan told H&H, adding that the association’s aim is to “demonstrate best practice and produce standards for all involved in the supply chain”.

    “As an independent organisation, CRUK is in a strong position to help the EA and the carpet sector through discussion and demonstration of testing for pollutants and microplastics, and successfully had the initial transitional period extended from three to six months, which is due to end on 17 June 2021.

    “Through the setting up of a ‘working group’, CRUK is talking to and will continue to speak to the sector and the EA, seeking for a favourable outcome for both, to help with tightening standards and quality relating to the use of carpet fibres in equestrian surfaces.”

    Justin Chittenden, managing director of Equine Health Centre which owns Equivia All-Weather Equestrian Surfaces, has welcomed the news.

    “The new regulations are a huge step forward for the equine surfaces industry as it will help to ensure that surfaces are free from contaminants and are safer for both horses and the environment,” Mr Chittenden told H&H, adding that the brand has always used clean post-industrial fibres, as opposed to the material that is being banned.

    “We take great pride in sourcing clean and traceable components. Sand and fibre arena surfaces are incredibly popular and riders should take comfort in the fact that they will still be available to purchase them moving forward, but they will be safer and cleaner for all involved.”

    Carpet Gallop has also welcomed the EA’s position.

    Carpet Gallop managing director Mark Gilbert told H&H: “We are actively in support of the changes to the regulations that will improve the industry. Carpet Gallop is in communication with the EA along with our partners and supply chain.

    “Supplying affordable surfaces will still be our aim and we are committed to that end.”

    Mr Gilbert, who said Carpet Gallop Ltd supplies a range of arena surface products alongside carpet fibre, but has been the subject of some vocal customer complaints on social media, added that the company has high levels of customer satisfaction.

    “Those in our supply chain who have not been able to improve quality are no longer part of our business,” he said.

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