The Road Safety Markings Association (RSMA) has today announced it is working with the European Union Roads Federation (ERF) and other road marking associations across Europe to generate robust evidence to counter continued misrepresentation by academic bodies and commercial entities that road markings are a significant contributor to microplastic pollution.
The vast majority of information in the public domain uses a flawed report published in 2017, which stated 7% of all microplastics originate from road markings, as a reference point/source of fact. The RSMA is gravely concerned that the report, based on critically flawed assumptions, is likely to have overestimated the road marking contribution to microplastic pollution by many thousands of percentage points; continued reference to it in academic papers and commercial policy/position statements undermines scientific analysis and invalidates any work which uses it as a basis for argument.
Stu McInroy, Chief Executive of the RSMA, said: “The research paper in question made a fundamental error by assuming that the volume of thermoplastic sold in a specific (non-UK) environment was de facto equal to the volume worn away from the pavement surface. This is incorrect and we hope the work, co-ordinated by the ERF, shall shine an objective and factual light on the reality. Additionally, the resins in thermoplastic materials can be derived from renewable resources and should not be counted as being a source of microplastic pollution.
“The industry is not claiming that road markings produce 0% microplastic pollution, however, previous industry research on the continent has found it to be circa 1/100th of the 7% often quoted in the 2017 report. The aim 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 road marking wear using a factual, evidence-based argument to establish a realistic assessment of the very small level of microplastic pollution generated by road markings.”