Europe Keeps Pace With Tire Recycling Goals and Growth

In less than two decades, Europe’s tire recycling industry has met many of the National and EU (European Union) end-of-life tires (ELT) diversion goals and is keeping pace with new increases in ELT generation, according to Barend Ten Bruggencate, Chairman of the Tyres Committee who spoke at the group’s meeting at the 2012 Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) World Recycling Convention held in Rome, Italy in May.

Citing figures from the 2011 edition of the European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers’ Association (ETRMA) statistical review, Chairman Ten Bruggencate reported that in 2010 material recovery accounted for 40 percent of end-of-life tires and 38 percent were consumed for energy recovery while only 4 percent were landfilled.

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By comparison in 1994, just 17 percent of Europe’s ELT’s were converted into rubber granulate for use in products or into energy for use by the cement industry while 62 percent ended up in landfills. The 2010 ELT recovery rate in the EU-27 plus Norway and Switzerland matched the 2009 rate of 95 percent but in 2010 recovered ELT volumes increased to keep pace with the higher volume of ELTs generated in Europe.

As generation rates climbed from 2.62 million tons in 2009 to 2.69 million, recovered ELTs jumped to 2.53 million tons in 2010 up from the 2.49 million tons recovered in 2009. ETRMA noted that Europe’s higher ELT recovery rates are also keeping pace with those being achieved in North America and Japan.

Overall in 2010, material recovery application consumed 1.3 million tons of ELTs. Another 1.2 million tons were utilized in Europe for energy recovery.

Chairman Ten Buggencate and Tyres Committee guest speaker Kees Van Ostenrijk of RecyBEM, BV, a Netherlands-based tire industry producer responsibility group praised Europe’s high ELT recovery rate but emphasized the need to maintain and build on what has already been achieved. Echoing findings in the ETRMA report both speakers pointed out that developing precise quality standards for ELT-derived shred, crumb and powder will help improve the level of quality of tire-derived products, open the market to new applications and technology exchanges and provide access to know-how and innovation.

Van Oostenrijk discussed the importance of end-of-waste criteria for used tires within the EU and explained that by developing pragmatic end-of-waste criteria measures where legislation no longer becomes applicable, associated costs can be reduced and exports will no longer be subject to onerous waste shipment regulations. He called end-of-waste criteria “our future” for used tires.

Van Oostenrijk also talked about research and development work into devulcanization and pyrolysis, saying that these techniques could have a substantially more impact on tire recycling in the future.

© Scrap Tire News, July 2012