Highways Voices hears about technology advances in road surfaces

Pollution from tyre micro plastic particles could be one of the next big environmental challenges facing highways authorities, according to Campbell Waddell, Managing Director of surface testing specialists, R3 Ltd.

Speaking as part of this weeks Highways News podcast, Highways Voices, Dr Waddell said that tyre manufacturers are putting a lot of research into the issue of micro plastic particles being produced as a result of vehicles tires interacting with the road surface. He said this is a ‘growing concern’ as they find their way into the atmosphere and into water courses. “There are growing levels of concern about the on-going effects of these micro plastic particles. It is one of the next big environmental issues facing the sector in the future and we need to debate how we solve it and develop a solution so that highway authorities can measure the contribution of the road surface to this issue.”

“The road surface obviously plays a big part in the root release of micro plastic particles from the tires because they are generated from the contact with the surface. So the more abrasive the surface, the more micro plastic particles that are released,” he added. R3 Ltd is currently working on a solution for measuring abrasion of road surfaces, so that highway authorities can address this.

Research has shown that more than 20,000 tonnes of tiny plastic particles are blown from roads into the oceans every year.

Also speaking on the podcast, Diane Ware, Principal Technical Officer for Highways at Wiltshire Council said that carbon savings and a sustainable approach to maintenance is becoming a even more important factor in helping effectively manage the condition of the region’s road surfaces.

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