When you think about automotive pollution, you probably don’t think about the tires. But that’s enough of a factor to prompt the creation of a new “tire filter” by Tyre Collective.

The organization, recent winners of the James Dyson Award, have produced a contraption that can collect and prevent up to 60% of tire pollution from moving vehicles. And even beyond that, they can theoretically use the collected particles to produce new tires.

What is tire pollution?

As a vehicle is driven, they slowly break down. Most drivers know this and it's why you need to replace your tires after a certain point in time. But have you ever considered where the lost mass goes? It's broken down into air particulates that enter the atmosphere. These rubbery particles are bad for both the air and for our lungs. Studies have shown that a standard hatchback produces “4.5 grams (0.16 ounces) of particle pollution every kilometer (0.62 mile) it travels.” The bigger the vehicle, the worse it is.

Tyre Collective’s “tire filter” is a small attachment that sits on the back end of each tire, in the mud flap area, via the steering knuckle. As the wheels spin, the broken down particles are flung into the filter, being caught and contained.

The organization is also working with tire producers and automakers to create a joint development process to mass produce these filters. They’re hoping to have a test batch ready some time in 2030.

A wonderful idea, but we still have some concerns. We worry that terrain and environment might interfere with filter effectiveness. What if it’s raining, for example? It’s in the same zone that water and mud gets thrown when driving. Would they become clogged by this? The other concern is price. If these additions are overly expensive, it will deter most drivers from participating. If people were willing to pay more to save the environment, we wouldn’t be in the world state we are now.

Either way, we will see how this product turns out in a decade.