Playing fields are a vital amenity in the Inner West. The Greens are committed to maintaining and improving natural turf playing fields and avoiding the use of artificial turf, which has a high environmental cost.

Artificial turf is increasingly used for playing fields across Sydney, including in the Inner West. As well as providing an even playing surface, it is argued that artificial turf is cheaper to maintain and even that it has environmental benefits such as reducing water use. 

Artificial Turf is hotter than natural turf. On hot, sunny days, sports fields and playgrounds can be unplayable. Natural surfaces are cooler. Trees provide shade and natural vegetation draws moisture from the soil and cools the air.

Research shows that artificial turf with rubber crumb is damaging to the environment and to the health of the community because:

  • it causes microplastics (particles less than 5mm diameter), heavy metals and other toxins to be released into local waterways in large quantities
  • these particles and toxins are dangerous to marine and other animal life, which are already impacted by urban pollution
  • surrounding grasslands and bushlands are contaminated by run-off
  • it blocks access to the soil for burrowing insects and worms, which are beneficial to the environment 
  • when fields need to be replaced, a large quantity of synthetic material goes into the landfill 
  • on hot days the surface of and air above artificial fields are significantly hotter than for natural turf fields, which can be dangerous for players
  • players pick up particles and toxins from synthetic turf on their clothes and skin
  • grazing from contact with artificial turf is a hazard for players, especially young children
  • replacing natural turf with synthetic products affects the heritage value of our parks.

If it is maintained properly, natural turf can meet the needs of multiple groups for the hours over the season that fields are needed. Looking after our natural turf fields rather than using synthetic products also avoids the expense of replacing worn-out artificial fields and is economically the best option.

The Greens are committed to comprehensive care of playing fields through:

  • maintaining soil quality and quantity
  • use of appropriate turf
  • irrigation
  • weed management
  • specialist consultation where needed.

Occasionally, a form of synthetic turf may be the most appropriate surface for a particular field. If this is the case, the Greens on council will support the most sustainable product available such as cork or sand as a substitute for rubber crumb and/or products that can and will be recycled.

The Inner West Greens’ artificial turf policy aims to address the needs of players who use local fields while minimising damage to the environment, which benefits everyone.