Government launches tyre and clothing microplastics research to protect oceans

Written by: Editorial staff | Published:
The funding will be used to see how plastic particles from tyres, synthetic materials and fishing gear impact our oceans

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey has pledged £200,000 to research the impact of tyres and clothing on the marine environment.

Scientists at the University of Plymouth will use the funding to explore how plastic particles from tyres, synthetic materials and fishing gear enter waterways and oceans and the impact they have on marine life.

The 11-month project will build on research already underway which estimates tyres contribute 270,000 tonnes of plastic per year while a single wash load of acrylic clothing could release over 700,000 microfibres.

Coffey said: “Robust scientific evidence should support our policy proposals, and through this exciting project we will build on work underway to better understand how microplastics end up in marine environment and what we can do to tackle this in the future.”

The project is being led by Professor Richard Thompson who oversaw Defra’s first research project on microplastics which led to the ban on microbeads in rinse-off cosmetics.

He said: “With very limited real data available to confirm the impact from these sources [tyres and synthetic materials], there is a genuine and pressing need to establish the true scale of this issue.”

The funding marks a series of government announcements on plastic pollution, with Prime Minister Theresa May last month calling for global action to protect oceans.

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