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Europe - EU seeks ‘reliable’ method to measure microplastic pollution from tyres

An EU regulation on tyre labelling due to come into force on 1 May will not cover the rate at which tyres shed particles – a major contributor to microplastics in Europe – as an agreed method for the calculation of abrasion is still not in place.

The requirement to list abrasion was included in the tyre labelling regulation, adopted in February 2020, but pushed back due to technical questions over how to measure the rate at which particles are jettisoned from tyres. It is estimated that a test method will be established by 2023.

The European Commission’s updated circular economy action plan, released in March 2020, sets a goal of “measuring unintentionally released microplastics, especially from tyres and textiles”.

As a first step, the plan highlights “harmonising methods” at European level in order to measure the release of microplastics in the environment.

The European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers Association (ETRMA), a lobby group representing companies including Bridgestone, Goodyear, and Pirelli, told EURACTIV that it is working with the Commission to develop a “reliable and reproducible method” to measure car tyre abrasion that is “reflective of European usage”.

ECOS, an NGO advocating for green environmental standards, criticised the decision to defer abrasion labelling, arguing there is “no time to waste” to address microplastics from tyre wear.

“The revision of the tyre labelling regulation was a great opportunity to guide consumers towards tyres that release less microplastics and European decision makers decided not to seize it,” Valeria Botta, programme manager at ECOS, told EURACTIV.

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