Tyres: Seas and Oceans

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 4th December 2020.

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Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the number of car tyres discarded in British coastal waters in each of the last three years.

Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the amount of micro-plastics emitted from discarded car tyres in Britain’s coastal waters.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The UK collects data on the quantity and type of marine litter in our waters, including data on seafloor litter, floating litter and beach litter, following methods agreed through the OSPAR Convention’s monitoring and assessment programmes. This includes data on tyres. Data are available up to 2017 through the Marine Online Assessment Tool which supports the updated UK Marine Strategy Part 1 published in 2019: https://moat.cefas.co.uk/.

A Defra funded study concluded that particles released from vehicle tyres during use could be a significant and previously unrecorded source of microplastics in the marine environment. However, it would be challenging to specifically calculate the amount of microplastic emitted from discarded car tyres in British coastal waters due to ocean currents which can move marine plastic litter and microplastics far beyond their point of entry into the marine environment.

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