The Pew Charitable Trusts and four other non-governmental organizations—Environmental Coalition on Standards, Rethink Plastic Alliance, Seas at Risk and Transport & Environment—have called on the European Parliament to address the pressing issue of microplastic emissions stemming from tyre abrasion, in light of the Parliament’s upcoming debate on the proposed Euro 7 regulation designed to reduce pollution from motor vehicles.
According to Pew’s 2020 “Breaking the Plastic Wave” report, if no action is taken, direct emissions from microplastics to the marine environment are expected to more than double globally in the next 20 years from a 2016 baseline. Emissions of tyre wear particles represent the second-largest quantified source of microplastic emissions in Europe—accounting for approximately 500,000 tons per year—and the European Commission estimates that by 2050, up to 90% of particulate emissions from road transport in Europe will come from non-exhaust sources—namely tyres and brakes. Because tyre particles include a number of harmful chemicals that can leach into the environment and affect human health, reducing microplastic emissions from tyres is a priority for protecting both human health and the environment.
In November 2022, the European Commission proposed measures to limit plastic pollution from vehicle tyres as part of its Euro 7 proposal for vehicle emission standards—with the goal of helping reach an objective set out in the 2021 EU Zero Pollution Action Plan: reduce microplastics released into the environment by 30% by 2030.
Now, as Members of the European Parliament consider their positions on Euro 7, they have a pivotal role in ensuring that the European Union (EU) delivers on its ambitious target. By establishing tyre abrasion limits for the first time, the EU could tackle a significant portion of Europe’s microplastic pollution at its source.