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Work in progress: Discussion paper on pollution from tyre abrasion

Until now, the role of tyre abrasion in the pollution of the waterways has not been taken into account in the model "From Land to Sea – Model for the documentation of land-based plastic litter". However, in view of the increasingly common custom of assigning tyre abrasion to microplastics, the authors of the model are now working, on behalf of the BKV, on ways to estimate the quantities involved, and thus provide an opportunity for further discussion of the topic.

Tyre abrasion has, until now, not been included in the "Land to Sea" model developed by Conversio Market & Strategy GmbH on behalf of the BKV. The background to this is that car tyres are regarded as "rubber products" and not as "plastics". On the other hand, more and more studies on the subject of marine litter now include discharges from tyre abrasion, grouping them together with microplastics. They are regarded as an important component of the plastic waste entering the environment. For this reason, the BKV has now decided to also apply the method developed for its model to an appraisal of the discharges due to tyre abrasion. In the same way as the main report of the model, it will be a case here of quantifying the amount of tyre abrasion from Germany that gets into the seas – in other words into the North Sea, Baltic Sea and Black Sea.

It has, however, been found that both the available data and the quality of the data relating to discharges into the environment are not sufficient for producing a reliable estimate. The result can therefore initially only depict a fluctuation margin. The data situation as regards discharges into rivers and lakes – which has barely been researched until now – also leaves much to be desired. In order to be able to estimate the discharges into the waterways, aspects such as the quantity remaining in the atmosphere, how much is removed in street cleaning, and the quantities retained in the various types of waste water treatment plants are all of major importance and need to be clarified with help of reliable data. Against this background, the report due to be published shortly will serve as a discussion paper for further debate of the subject. With fresh information and improved data, the estimate and validation should become increasingly accurate.

The BKV discussion paper on the topic of tyre abrasion (only in German language) can be ordered free of charge via the BKV website ( Click under "Marine Litter: Bericht und Sonderbetrachtungen zum Modell 'Vom Land ins Meer'".

More information: "From Land to Sea – Model for teh documentation of land-based plastic litter" (Possibility for ordering the main report including the handbook and various special publications)


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