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‘Tires: The Plastic Polluter You Never Thought About’

Tire wear and tear sheds microplastics that end up in the ocean–and it isn’t something to shrug off.


When one thinks of plastic pollution, post-consumer plastic and plastic packaging are common items that come to mind. However, recent studies, including a report by National Geographic, sound off on the increasing concern for used tires as a major contributor to plastic pollution. NatGeo explains how tires, which consist of 24% synthetic rubber (a plastic polymer), shed microplastics through abrasion when these are utilized throughout their lifespan. These tiny plastic particles end up in waterways and eventually make their way into rivers and the ocean, where they are slowly affecting the long-term health of marine life. While used tires are sometimes recycled or burned for energy (a detrimental process when not executed properly), the rest ends up in landfills.


International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, estimates that used tires account for as much as 10% of overall microplastic waste in the world’s oceans. A 2017 report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature put that number at 28%. ‘Future of Global Tires 2024’ reports a market size of over 2.36 billion units of tires growing at a 3.1% compound annual rate with an estimated microplastic contribution of at least 1.8 million tons. The tire market in the Philippines is expected to surpass $900 million by 2021 on account of expanding passenger car fleets, continuing infrastructure growth, and large-scale construction activities being undertaken in the country.


In response to this crisis, PCX has generated a specific credit for the processing and recovery of used tires. Given that the standard synthetic composition of tires is 24%, this will be used to compute the tire’s net plastic weight. 100 metric tons of used tires, for example, is equivalent to 24 metric tons of plastic credits. This specific plastic credit will be taken into consideration when calculating Plastic Footprints as well as the awarding of credits moving forward. For more information, refer to PCX Guidance Note 01 Plastic Credits from Used Tires.


The pressing issue of used tires needs to be addressed while they are still macroplastics to prevent the impossible task of recovering them as microplastics which also has devastating effects on the health of both animals and people.


Visit this article on PCX's website here.

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