ETRMA Publishes New End-of Life-Tyres Report

The European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers Association (ETRMA) points to Europe (EU) as one of the most advanced regions in the world in the recycling and recovery of end-of-life-tires (ELTs) in the recently released 2010 edition of its annual End-of-Life-Tyres Report.

Since 1996, landfilling has declined from 32 percent of used tires generated to 4 percent in 2009. At the same time, the combined recycling, recovery , reuse and retreading markets now contribute to a substantial 96 percent used tire recovery rate. The major markets in 2009 were energy recovery 45 percent and material recovery 41percent.

Tire Recycling Equipment

According to the report , an impressive 95 percent of ELTS discarded in Europe in 2009 were successfully diverted from landfill. The new diversion rate is two percent higher than the 2008 rate. All in all, about 2.5 million tons of end of life tires were collected to enter recycling and recovery processes. This represents a five-fold increase of the recovered quantities over the last 16 years and an average annual increase of 25 percent.

ETRMA credits this new benchmark to the continuous commitment of the EU tire industry despite the ongoing consolidation of the EU tire replacement market and taking into account a one percent ( more than 20,000 tons) increase in the ELTs recovered in 2009 compared to 2008.

About 1.4 billion tires are sold worldwide each year and subsequently just as many fall into the category of end of life tires, according to ETRMA. Yet, despite an increase in the service life of tires and the economic slowdown in Europe, US and Japan, ETRMA predicts these volumes are about to increase because of the projected growing number of vehicles and increasing traffic worldwide.

In 2009 the EU was faced with the challenge of managing more than 3.2 million tons of used tires including tires for retreading and reuse/export. This represents a 5 percent reduction copared to 2007 and 2.5 percent compared to 2008. After sorting used tires for retreading and reuse/export ( totaling about 581.000 tons of tires) an estimated 2.6 million tons of ELTs remained on the EU market for recovery and recycling.

In Europe, the annual cost for the management of ELTs is estimated at € 600 million. In addition the EU has millions of used tires that have been illegally dumped or stockpiled. The current estimate for these historic stockpiles throughout the EU stands at 5.5 million tons (1.73 times the 2009 annual generation of used tires).

The annual generation of used tires from end of life vehicles amounts to 320,000 tons which represents around 10 percent of the total annual generation of discarded tires. Among the issues facing the tire industry regarding ELTs, EU Member States have to comply with the EU legislation in transposing the Directives into local legislation. They are free to set national initiatives to reach the EU targets. At national level, the landfill of waste Directive has been a major driver for setting ELT management systems in Europe. Under this Directive both whole and shredded tires are banned form land disposal in EU countries.

Tire manufacturers are also facing growing environmental pressure from the general public and other stakeholders concerning illegal dumping and historic stockpiles. For all these reasons it is in the interests of the tire industry to continue being proactive and take responsibility collectively for end of life tires, the report said.

Today within the EU there are three different systems for managing end of life tires: producer responsibility, a tax system and a free market system.

Under the producer responsibility system, the law defines the legal framework and assigns the responsibility to the producers (tire manufacturers and importers) to organize the management chain of end of life tires. Subsequently, not- for-profit companies financed by tire producers, have been set up in many countries to manage collection and recovery of ELTs. Currently, this system is adopted in 13 EU countries. Italy is expected to be operational in 2011 and other EU Member States are set to follow in the near future.

Under the tax system each country is responsible for the recovery and recycling of the end of life tires. It is financed by a tax levied on (tire) production and subsequently passed on to the customer. This is an intermediate system whereby the producers pay a tax to the State, which is responsible overall for the organization and remunerates the operators in the recovery chain. Countries which operate under this system are Denmark and the Slovak Republic.

Under the free market system the legislation sets the objectives to be met but does not designate those responsible. In this way all the operators in the recovery chain contract under free market conditions and act in compliance with legislation. This may be backed up by voluntary cooperation between companies to promote best practices. Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland all operate under a free market system. The United Kingdom’s free market system is a hybrid in which collectors and treatment operators have to report to national authorities.

Two case studies are featured in the Report. One covers ELTs Biomass Content and Calorific Value and the other is a summary of Aliapur’s Life Cycle Assessment of 9 Recovery Methods for End of Life Tyres. Aliapur is the not-for-profit company that manages used tire collection, recovery and recycling in France under a producer responsibilty scheme.

© Scrap Tire News, February 2011