Plastic pollution in the marine environment, and the negative impact on biodiversity and human health via the
food chain is of increasing concern (UNEP (2014), Standing Committee on Environment and Communications
(2016)). Whilst the management of macro-plastics (e.g. plastic bags, bottles and straws) has seen some
economic policy success, (e.g. through reuse and recycling of plastic waste etc.), the same cannot be said of
micro-plastics (Dauvergne, 2018).
A key source of micro-plastic pollution is from the wear and tear of tyres, as a result of private car travel. It is
estimated that emissions from tyre wear alone makes-up between 5-10% of micro-plastics deposited in the
oceans (Kole et al. 2017). However, private car travel remains the cornerstone of urban mobility globally with
no signs of abating. Demand is expected to shift to electric and hybrid cars, oft touted greener alternatives
(Climate Council n.d.). However, due to their greater weight, there is concern that emissions from brake wear,
tyre wear and road wear from electric and hybrid cars may exceed exhaust emissions that they negate
(Timmers and Achten (2016), Brueckner (2018)).
You have been approached by a major environmental group to provide an unbiased and objective examination
of the economics of micro-plastic pollution from tyre wear and tear.
You are required to provide:
1. an overview of issues related to micro-plastic pollution from tyre wear and tear, inclusive of the extent/size
of the problem and the potential economic costs borne by both individuals and society.
2. a description of the relevant economic theory to explain the effects of tyre wear and tear on economic
efficiency of private car consumption (travel)
3. a critical analysis of
a. an economic policy solution that would result in an economic efficiency outcome
b. a reduction in micro-plastic pollution from wear and tear of tyres as a result of an innovation
You are required to support your economic analysis with appropriate data and economic models (partial
equilibrium analysis) which you use to examine how the policy achieves the desired objective – reduction of
micro-plastic pollution from car use. A brief summary of the potential economic effects (costs and benefits) of
each of the above policies is required. However, it is appreciated that a full analysis of the dynamic effects of
these policy solutions is beyond the scope of this work.