Microplastics in the sea - reply

The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and IVL presented the report commissioned by the government on 7 March concerning microplastics in the sea. The main theme of the report is that rubber from artificial grass represents one of the biggest sources of microplastics. The SDAB wants to clarify that the report is a theoretical study based on conceivable sources and spread routes for pollution in the sea. However, the report authors do write that it has not been possible to prove that material from tyres does get into the sea.

At the start of the research for the report, a workshop was held at which information was presented proving that tyre rubber had not been identified in the samples taken from the Baltic Sea. (89% of plastics were identifiable but theoretically, there could be rubber in the non-analysed 11%). Other research shows that tyre particles have a higher density than water, and therefore become sediment faster - i.e. float around if they get in the water. It can also be noted that rubber particles are used as soil improvement, as they loosen the soil and encourage growth when not in the vicinity of watercourses. A large number of studies analysed by associate professor Tommy Edeskär at Luleå Technical University have shown that tyre rubber does not leach harmful substances, which is why its use is deemed to be safe.

SDAB supports the findings by identifying and reducing microplastics in the sea.

Their presence is a major problem that has to be tackled. SDAB therefore welcomes serious studies that show the actual occurrence of the problem. If proven that tyre rubber from artificial grass is a problem, the SDAB will work to ensure that rubber traps are used so that the use of these artificial surfaces which encourage healthy outdoor activity all year round can be safely developed.