Tyres and microplastic pollution: what’s the problem and what’s being done to address it?
Recent research estimates tyres contribute around 270,000 tonnes of tiny plastic particles per year to our oceans. We find out how and ask what’s being done about it…
What is microplastic pollution?
Previous research from the USA has estimated that 30% of the microplastics that are polluting Earth’s oceans and waterways comes from tyres.
Other research done in Germany in 2018 found that microplastics from tyres and vehicle brake pads made up 89% of the particles taken from the air above motorways. The scientists believe these tiny particles are being blown by the wind and washed by rain into waterways that lead to oceans.
What’s is the government doing about the problem?
In the wake of a number of recent studies of microplastic pollution in the world’s oceans and the air above busy motorways, the UK government commissioned research into the issue in May 2018. The results from this 11-month project, conducted by Plymouth University, are due soon.
The Department for Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) pledged £200,000 to pay for the research, which will analyse how tiny plastic particles from tyres and other synthetic materials, such as polyester from fishing nets, ropes and lines, enter our waterways and oceans and the impact they have on marine life.
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