Tires as one of the biggest hidden source microplastic polluters

post_image_tire_abrasion_062021
Environment / Sustainability / Tech

Tires as one of the biggest hidden source microplastic polluters

Being natural rubber and plastic, we all have been unaware of the fact that tires are one of the biggest microplastic polluters. Till now, a lot of people had no idea that how it has been contributing to pollution on a global scale. Do you know that every year 100,000 metric tons of microplastics from tires shred and become part of our air and ocean? Especially the ocean has suffered a lot and we were unable to see it. 1100 tons of tire microplastics float over the water of the US. The whole pollution is coming from the vehicle tires that are uncontrollably affecting our environment.

What are tires made of and how the wear and tear happen?

Commonly, the plastic or the rubber from the tires shred due to constant use and they become part of our air. It has also been reported that many people throw the waste of tires in the ocean which has significantly disturbed marine life. In another study, it has been said that in the 7 trillion particles of microplastic found on the known San Francisco Bay, most of the plastic is coming from the tires. In the past, there was no awareness and alternative of the tires but with the technological advancements, we may be able to find a way by which we can ensure sustainability.

In past, people used stone or wood for the wheels but within time we upgraded our rides with solid rubber. The cars came into being in 1800 and soon tires were made due to the increasing demand for a more long-lasting transport. At that time, people used to make rubber with the help of rubber trees which caused deforestation around the world. Over time, with modernization, the demand for cars increased as they became inexpensive. So, we needed a bigger source of rubber. That is when the German scientists gave their contribution is making synthetic rubber in 1909. The industrialization and manufacturing of synthetic rubber started but they didn’t know how dangerous it could be to the environment.

Moreover, with the demand for vehicles, the use of oil has increased. Modern car tires need around 7 gallons of oil and truck tires to need 22 gallons.

Why the tires break down and cause pollution?

This question depends a lot on the grip of the vehicle on the road and how the driver is handling it. The abrasion can cause the tire to break into bits and tear. In another report, it was found that a normal truck can lose 2.5 pounds of truck rubber in 6 years. It is an average statistic but it shows that how much tires have caused pollution and we were unable to see it. The US is alone producing around 1.8 million tons of microplastics every year.

So, how do these microplastics become part of the ocean? It depends on many factors like the people throwing waste disposal of tires in the ocean. Moreover, roads located near the ocean or rivers in rain get polluted due to the flow of water. As this topic is new to the world, people are still discussing the multiple factors and how we can still save our environment. But due to the millions of microplastics in the air and ocean, we can say that it has given an adverse effect on our environment. Especially, marine life has been critically affected as the tire particles can stick in the gills of fishes. And, if they are ingested by the marine life it can remain in their guts for a long time. When you eat fish, how can you be sure now that whether it has microplastic or not? Therefore, we must fix what we did wrong and use eco-friendly materials that will help us in transport and secure our natural resources.

What’s the solution?

Around 1.5 billion tires are discarded worldwide. Reducing this number is not going to be an easy task as it will affect the economies all around the world. The automobile industry will have to look for alternatives to reduce plastic.

The key here is the use of bioplastics.

Although, there have been many new setups and contributions on a global scale to protect the environment now and ensure sustainability, the fuel consumption, tearing of tires and microplastic pollution is a big problem that needs to be handle on an urgent basis. The landfills that are burned with tires are still going on and it has become a challenge for the government and automobile industry to reduce this global waste.

But, to improve the condition of the planet and preserving nature for the future we must choose eco-friendly options now and that’s where bio tires will come in now.

What are the benefits of using bioplastics?

We have already been using bioplastics in our life in cutlery and packaging etc. While it has many industrial applications, bioplastics can be used in the manufacturing of tires that will decrease the amount of greenhouse gas emissions like the other tires. Moreover, even if they break down these tires do not have any amount of carbon dioxide in them. Bioplastics are made from eco-friendly materials and have fewer production costs and save a lot of natural resources. But, the breakdown faster than the other plastics.

Among many other innovations around the world, the demand for automobiles is not coming slow. There has been a lot of pressure on sustainable options that can cover the need for transport. But the work is still going on such vehicles for the environmental concerns. Bioplastics have been favored by many industries due to their sustainability. The green tires will take the place of black ones and make a difference in the environment.

The industry is still growing and the research on more options is still going on. The researchers are looking for many options other than bioplastics. But till then, we can finally say goodbye to landfills of tires and ensure a clean environment. This renewable option should start implementing in the automotive industry in the new cars now so we and the marine life can breathe the fresh air.

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