Highways Magazine – RSMA launches microplastics survey ‘to counter misrepresentation’

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The Road Safety Markings Association (RSMA) has partnered with the European Union Road Federation (ERF) and road marking associations across Europe to generate “hard evidence” on microplastic pollution.

In a statement, RSMA said the research was needed to “counter continued misrepresentations by academic bodies and commercial entities that road markings contribute significantly to microplastic pollution.”

The RSMA has raised “serious concerns” that the vast majority of information in the public domain is based on a 2017 report, which indicated that 7% of all microplastics came from road markings.

The report overestimated the problem by “several thousand percentage points” because it was based on “incorrect assumptions”, the main trade body argued.

Stu McInroy, Chief Executive of the RSMA, commented: “The research paper in question made a fundamental error in assuming that the volume of thermoplastic sold in a specific (non-UK) environment was de facto equal to the worn volume of the pavement surface. This is incorrect and we hope that the work, coordinated by the ERF, will shed objective and factual light on the reality.

“Furthermore, resins in thermoplastic materials can come from renewable resources and should not be considered a source of microplastic pollution.

“Industry does not claim that road markings produce 0% microplastic pollution, however, previous industry research on the continent has found it to be around 1/100th of 7 % often cited in the 2017 report.

“The objective of this collaborative project with the ERF and other road marking associations across Europe is not to position one road marking product against another, but to share understanding and knowledge of the road marking wear using a factual and evidence-based argument to establish a realistic assessment of the very low level of microplastic pollution generated by road markings.

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