Tyres and microplastics: time to reinvent the wheel? | Friends of the Earth
Vehicle tyres are probably the biggest source of plastic pollution in our rivers and seas, according to a new report commissioned by Friends of the Earth.
When you think about car pollution, you probably think mainly about exhaust emissions.
We’ve been pointing out the global-warming and health-harming effects of petrol and diesel vehicles for years.
But recent research shows there’s another serious, maybe more surprising environmental threat from road traffic. It comes from tyres.
Although we loosely call them ‘rubber’, vehicle tyres are actually made from a complex blend of a lot of mostly synthetic materials and chemicals, including different types of plastic.
As cars and trucks pound along our roads, they gradually shed tiny bits of tyre material. Think about how tyre tread slowly but inevitably wears down until tyres need replacing.
When it rains, those tyre particles – essentially microplastics – are washed off the road surface into drains and waterways. These could ultimately pollute the oceans.