PITCH IMPERFECT: Are astroturf pitches bad for our green spaces?
9 Backers raised €220 of €220

Concerns have been raised internationally over the potential environmental impacts from small microplastic fibres used as infill on artificial sports pitches - with estimates of between 60 and 120 tonnes of the material required for one pitch alone.

This investigation was part-funded through crowdfunding (€220 of the proposed €2,170). We decided to reduce the project's scope and focus on Dublin where most pitches are concentrated, and went ahead with additional support from our investigative fund.

The material - known as crumb rubber - is created from the shredding of recycled car tyres, and has been highlighted as one of the solutions to tackle Ireland’s chronic waste tyre problem with millions of tyres dumped or going to landfill every year until recently.

Although tyres are now recycled and ground up for use on synthetic pitches throughout Ireland, research from the Netherlands found the material can “detrimentally affect biodiversity” close to playing fields, including leaching into subsoil and drainage water.

There is also concern about how astroturf pitches are replacing amenity grassland used by various species including the vulnerable Brent geese, and international studies have also raised concern that tons of the material is lost from pitches every year into the environment.


We want to analyse international studies on the potential impacts of crumb rubber on biodiversity, the wider environment and human health and investigate what research, if any, authorities have carried out in Ireland.

We also want to examine planning records to map out the number of synthetic pitches currently in place county by county.

We will examine if more eco-friendly and safe alternatives are available to the use of crumb rubber that could be rolled out in Ireland in the future.

If you want to make a contribution to help this investigation happen, click the 'Fund This Proposal' button. Noteworthy investigations are sourced from and crowdfunded by the public.

You can contact us at and find out how we work here.

9 Backers raised €220 of €220
Other Proposals
   Search for Proposals