The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has published a report providing policy insights on how to minimize microplastics emitted unintentionally from products and their potential impacts on human health and ecosystems.
“Policies to Reduce Microplastics Pollution in Water: Focus on Textiles and Tyres” assesses the feasibility and adequacy of available mitigation measures for microplastic in marine and freshwater environments and focuses on textile products and vehicle tires.
In contribution to the report, the OECD invited the Tire Industry Project (TIP) to support the 18-20 May, 2020, OECD workshop Microplastics from Tyre Wear: Knowledge, Mitigation Measures, and Policy Options. TIP welcomed the opportunity to support the workshop and share scientific research during the drafting phase of the report. TIP was present at the workshop and provided an overview of the findings of the scientific research that it has sponsored on tire and road wear particles (TRWP) and recommended that any microplastics policy responses be informed by robust, evidence-based science.
Studies into potential flows, transport, and sinks of TRWP in the environment (1, 2) have suggested that most TRWP finds its way to roadside soils or is removed from the road surface as runoff; a small fraction of TRWP is released to the air. The same research estimated that 18% of all TRWP is transported to freshwater, with 2%-5% of total TRWP transported to the estuary. An estimated 62% of all TRWP is transported to wastewater treatment.
TRWP is an important but relatively new field of research. The studies sponsored by TIP to-date have suggested that TRWP are unlikely to pose significant risk to human health or the environment; however, TIP is engaged in continued research to improve scientific understanding of any potential risks.
The final OECD report considers a range of potential mitigation options, from sustainable design to end-of-pipe approaches, including improved road run-off management, and recommends mitigation be proportional, consistent with existing policy frameworks, and based on adequate cost-benefit analysis considerations. The report also recognizes the value and need for multi-stakeholder contributions to potential mitigation efforts.
The report was authored by the OECD’s Environment Policy Committee (EPOC) Working Party on Resource Productivity and Waste, with input from the OECD Working Party on Biodiversity, Water, and Ecosystems, and external experts, including TIP.