Posted on 26 October 2021

OECD publishes microplastics report with a focus on textiles and tyres

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has published a report providing policy insights on how to minimize microplastics emitted unintentionally from products and their potential impacts on human health and ecosystems.

Microplastics in water: pathways and policy responses: A focus on textiles and tyres assesses the feasibility and adequacy of available mitigation measures for microplastic pollution of marine and freshwater environments and focuses on textile products and vehicle tires.

In contribution to the report, the OECD invited the Tire Industry Project (TIP) and the European Tyre and Rubber Manufactures Association (ETRMA) to support the 18-20 May, 2020, OECD workshop Microplastics from Tyre Wear: Knowledge, Mitigation Measures, and Policy Options. ETRMA and TIP welcomed the opportunity to support the workshop.  TIP was present at the workshop and provided an overview of the findings of the scientific research that it has sponsored on tire and road wear particles (TRWP) and recommended that any microplastics policy responses be informed by robust, evidence-based science. ETRMA presented the activities and the work programme of the European TRWP Platform, facilitated by CSRE and gathering relevant stakeholders including European and national Authorities, Road, Vehicle, Waste Water industries, international organizations as well scientific community representatives.

Studies (1, 2) have suggested that most TRWP finds its way to roadside soils or is removed from the road surface as runoff; a small fraction of TRWP is released to the air.  The same research estimated that 18% of TRWP is transported to freshwater, with 2%-5% of total TRWP transported to the estuary. An estimated 62% of TRWP is transported to wastewater treatment.

The final OECD report considers potential mitigation options from sustainable design through to end-of-pipe approaches including improved road run-off management, and recommends mitigation be proportional, consistent with existing policy frameworks, and based on adequate cost-benefit analysis considerations. The report also recognizes the value and need for multi-stakeholder contributions to potential mitigation efforts.

The report was authored by the OECD’s Environment Policy Committee (EPOC) Working Party on Resource Productivity and Waste, with input from the OECD Working Party on Biodiversity, Water, and Ecosystems, and external experts, including TIP.