At the recent Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC) Symposium on rubber recycling, we heard from the Tire Industry Project that tyre wear particles did not pose an environmental risk. That, coming from the tyre industry was almost an inevitable response.
Is there a crisis with Tyre Wear Particles?
However, on Wednesday 21st November, the Guardian carried a short article claiming exactly the opposite. The study from Friends of the Earth suggested that 68,000 tonnes of microplastic pollution is released from tyres each year – ending up in the environment. This is not a new revelation, however, it is an issue that may have found its day.
With the TIP denying that there is an issue and environmentalists claiming there is, at a time when the issue of microplastics in the environment has come to the fore, then perhaps the tyre industry has a challenge to address.
It is almost incredulous that the TIP can claim that there is no risk from tyre wear materials when it is now accepted by the greater part of the world’s scientists that microplastics do pose a risk and can enter the food chain.
For the tyre manufacturers, the ultimate challenge is what can they do about it. However, they manufacture tyres, there will be road wear and it will end up in drainage sludge and eventually in the soil and water courses.