Climate Action

New report finds car tyres responsible for thousands of tonnes of plastic pollution in the UK

A new report by Friends of the Earth has found that car tyres are responsible for a large amount of plastic pollution in the UK.

  • 22 November 2018
  • Rachel Cooper

A new report by Friends of the Earth has found that car tyres are responsible for a large amount of plastic pollution in the UK.

The report, based on a study for the European Commission, found that 19,000 tonnes of microplastic pollution could be entering UK waterways from vehicle tyres.

Vehicle tyres shed tiny bits of plastic during driving, and are believed to be responsible for the greatest proportion of microplastic pollution entering EU surface waters.

Microplastics absorb and concentrate toxic pollutants from the surrounding seawater, making them even more poisonous to animals that mistake them for food.

Friends of the Earth are calling on the government to implement a stricter plastic waste strategy to curb, what Theresa May termed, Britain’s ‘throwaway culture’. They suggest a ‘Plastics Pollution Actions Plan’ which would involve aiming for near zero plastic pollution by 2042.

Julian Kirby, Friends of the Earth plastics campaigner, said: "Microplastic pollution may be largely invisible, but it’s having a potentially devastating effect on our natural environment - especially as it can be mistaken for food by some our smallest ocean creatures, which are then eaten by bigger creatures as part of the food chain. Ministers are right to be concerned about the impact of bags, straws and single-use coffee cups on our environment, but we mustn’t ignore the threat from tiny bits of plastic too.”

This news follows a study that found humans are now ingesting microplastics. Plastic pollution is also affecting animals, last week, a dead whale in Indonesia was found with over 1,000 pieces of plastic in its stomach.