BTMA members supply two-thirds of the new tyres on Britain’s roads and are committed to further increasing the sustainability of road transport through improved performance throughout the product lifecycle.

There are many sources of particulate matter in the atmosphere.  Defra’s Clean Air Strategy  identifies that around 15% of UK particulate matter comes from naturally occurring sources, up to a third from neighbouring countries and around half from UK human-made sources.

Defra indicates that of these latter, 38% are due to the domestic burning of fossil fuels and wood, 16% arise from industrial combustion and 12% are due to road transport.  So, considering all the particulate matter in the atmosphere, road transport in the UK contributes about 6% of the total.

Friction between the tyre and the road is needed for safe motoring.  This releases particles that are each an approximately 50/50 mix of tyre and road materials.  Our understanding of tyre and road wear particles has increased greatly in recent years as a result of multiple research projects.

  • The particles are relatively large (with a median size between 80 and 100 micron, 10 times larger than PM10) and dense (estimated to be about 1.8 g/cm3);
  • Less than 1% of fine particulate matter found in city centre ambient air sampling is due to tyre and road wear particles (including in London, where the research was undertaken by Kings College);
  • As a result of their size and density, tyre and road wear particles fall quickly fall out of the atmosphere. Only 1% remain airborne;
  • Unlike many microplastics, tyre and road wear particles sink rapidly in water. This important fact underlies the recent research finding that few tyre and road wear particles reach the oceans, counter to earlier predictions;
  • Tyre and road wear particles in fresh water sediments pose a low risk of toxicity to aquatic organisms under typical exposure conditions (based on the absence of observed adverse effects on test organisms from seven species).

Along with other stakeholders, BTMA members are pursuing further research into the nature and dispersion of tyre and road wear particles and to identify mitigation opportunities.  In addition, the tyre industry is committed to pursuing a reliable tyre abrasion resistance test to inform consumer choice and enable possible future regulation.

Further information and reading can be found below:

Over 80% of the whole-life CO2 emissions of a tyre arise from its use.  This is why choosing low rolling resistance tyres and keeping them correctly inflated are so important.

Surveys have repeatedly shown that 25% of vehicles have at least one tyre 25% under-inflated.  This leads to increased fuel consumption, poorer vehicle handling and reduced tyre life.  Over 600,000 tyres and 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 are wasted in the UK every year due to tyre under-inflation.

Tyre safety and environmental performance are shown on the product label.  There is a difference of 6% in fuel consumption between the lowest- and highest-graded tyres.  This corresponds to a saving in CO2 emissions of over 10g/km for a full set of car tyres, correctly inflated.

About half the car tyres offered on the replacement market are graded E for rolling resistance.  (F is the lowest class and A the best).  This has barely changed over the last 5 years, despite the introduction of the tyre labelling regulation.  Improved consumer communication is needed to deliver the targeted contribution to reducing road transport CO2 emissions.   BTMA members are committed to further improvement in tyre rolling resistance, including an engagement to reduce truck tyre rolling resistance by a further 15% by 2030.

Further information and reading can be found below:

Tyres are a safety-critical element of every road vehicle.  BTMA members are pursuing the use of recycled, recovered and bio-sourced materials in new tyres without loss of functional performance.  30% recycled and 50% bio-sourced content in new tyres are in prospect for 2050.  However, progress is time-consuming due to the need for product adaptation and the imperative of maintaining product safety.

Tyre manufacture accounts for 70% of the world production of natural rubber.  Industry players have developed alternative sources of natural rubber to relieve pressure on supplies from rainforest plantations of the hevea tree as demand for tyres increases, particularly in developing countries.

Retreading truck tyres delivers 3 times the resource productivity and consumes 4 times fewer tyres than using low-cost single-life tyres.  Government has recognised the important contribution that remanufacturing can make to both the environment and the economy.  BTMA members are looking to significantly increase the market share of retreaded truck and bus tyres in the coming years.

Over 30% of UK used tyres are exported for re-use or recovery abroad.  This represents a missed opportunity for increased UK resource productivity and improved supply resilience.  Innovative recovery techniques currently under development offer the prospect of an extended range of high-value applications for tyre-derived secondary raw materials.

In all these opportunities BTMA is working closely with government to ensure that current and future markets are favourable to the development of a more regenerative circular economy.