Road markings , Source: City of Helsinki

Helsinki introduces bio-based road marking compound

Helsinki introduces bio-based road marking compound

It will reduce microplastics emissions and pollution

On 24 August, the Finnish capital announced that the business administration Stara is working on reducing pollution by changing the city’s road markings. Although many people may be unaware of this, the wear and tear of road markings results in the emission of microplastics: small fragments under 5mm in length which contain harmful substances and threaten the safety of living organisms.

Switching to bio-based compounds

Environmental Engineer Kati Nurminen explained that one of the main raw materials used in traditional road marking compounds is oil-based resin. According to Nurminen, when this material is worn and ground under tires, it results in microplastics emissions that eventually travel to waterways with stormwater.

To reduce the emission of these harmful fragments, Stara will now switch to a more environmentally friendly road marking compound. That is, instead of using the conventional oil-based resin, it will opt for a compound containing bio-based resin made of tall oil.

Although this is slightly more expensive, it is considerably less harmful to the environment. It must be noted that the new compound still contains polymers; however, its wear generates significantly fewer microplastics. What is more, its carbon footprint is also much smaller.

Taking this further, the City of Helsinki reported that Stara currently uses 60,000 to 100,000 kg of materials per year to renew worn-out markings. This includes markings on streets, bicycle lanes, footpaths, and parking areas, among others. Replacing the harmful compound with one that is more environmentally friendly will, therefore, substantially reduce pollution.

In a press release, Production Manager Mika Honkasalo highlighted: “Some of our subcontractors already use the bio-based road marking compound. Next year, we will tighten the environmental criteria of our tender so that in the future, all our subcontractors will also use a similar road marking compound.”

With such actions, the Finnish capital demonstrates its commitment to making changes that benefit the environment and all living organisms.



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