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When you think about car pollution, you probably think mainly about exhaust emissions. But recent research shows there’s another serious, possibly more surprising environmental threat from road traffic, and it comes from tyres.
According to a new study, tiny plastic particles have been found in huge quantities across the Arctic and the Alps, with microplastics from tyres a bigger source of marine pollution than the breakdown of larger plastic waste.
The report found between 15% and 31% of plastic pollution came from primary microplastics, of which the biggest contributors was abrasion of tyres caused while driving.
Although we call them ‘rubber’, vehicle tyres are actually made from a complex blend of mostly synthetic materials and chemicals, including different plastics. Synthetic rubber, made from a variant of plastic, makes up around 60% of the rubber used in tyres.
As cars and trucks drive along, they gradually shed tiny bits of tyre material. When it rains, those tyre particles are washed off the road surface into drains and waterways, ultimately polluting the oceans, creating a sort of "plastic soup"
There are several small things that drivers can do to reduce tyre wear and therefore microplastic shedding. These generally coincide with what’s widely considered eco-driving.
Wheel Alignment and Tyre Wear
Improper wheel alignment can cause your tyres to wear unevenly and prematurely. Common irregular tyre tread wear conditions from improper alignment include the following:
If you think your tyres might be wearing unevenly or prematurely, book into your nearest alignment centre.