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Expert questions tyre role in marine pollution claims

Professor Richard Thompson OBE, who leads the International Marine Research Unit at the University of Plymouth, has questioned claims made by the Marine Conservation Society relating the role played by tyre wear in marine microplastic pollution.


Tyre wear particles – minor problem for the industry or potential ‘tyregate’?

The UK government identifies tyres as potentially responsible for up to ten per cent of the microplastics in the world’s oceans, and some research conducted abroad suggests this proportion could be much higher. A study from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) indicates that 28.3 per cent of all primary microplastics may come from tyre/road wear (this figure rises to 46.2 per cent when the IUCN includes both natural and synthetic rubber in its scenario), and earlier this year a marine biologist from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research singled out tyres as a “major influence” upon the presence of microplastics in our oceans. Taking such research at face value, it is feasible that the ‘dieselgate’ scandal could be followed at some stage by ‘tyregate’. Yet the tyre industry asserts that tyre/road wear isn’t the environmental and health risk some claim it to be. Continental’s Nikolai Setzer recently discussed this side of the argument.

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Tyre maker CEOs provide TIP update

Chief executive officers of 11 leading tyre companies met at the offices of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) last Friday and announced the latest results of ongoing international research projects studying the potential health and environmental impacts of tyres.


IUCN study: Micro tyre waste a major source of ocean pollution

According to a study published by environmental network the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), tiny plastic particles from tyres and other products such as synthetic clothing could contribute up to 31 per cent of the 9.5 million tonnes of plastic released into the ocean each year. The report suggests that tyre waste generated by abrasion during use accounts for 28.3 per cent of these primary microplastics. Tyre particles and other waste reach the ocean through road runoff, the path that 66 per cent of microplastics are said to take on their journey to the ocean.

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