Standards will drive recycling industry
TA News Bureau
The tyre recycling industry globally has struggled to find customers with end uses and/or tyre-derived products to meet the high volumes of scrap tyres generated. Sustainable solutions are based on multiple factors including government regulations on scrap tyre facilities and legal disposal sites, says Denise Kennedy, Founder and President of DK Enterprises, the Sacramento, California-based company that offers best management practices on scrap tyres and find value in developing tyre-derived products (TDP). She also helps clients with market development of tyre-derived material (TDM) feedstock for end use such as turf crumb rubber infill, tyre-derived aggregate (TDA), tyre-derived fuel (TDF), loose fill playground surface or manufacturing of TDP. In this interview she speaks on sustainability issues and marketing of eco-friendly products and the need to develop standards
Denise Kennedy, Founder and President of DK Enterprises, the Sacramento, California-based company is in the forefront encouraging her clients to follow best management practices in scrap tyre recycling. It includes identifying the customer for a use and then the manufacturer, supplier, compounder if needed and technical and testing facilities. She is also a leading advocate for globally acceptable standards for tyre derived products.
She is closely associated with the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) in developing scrap tyre programmes and grants. As part of CalRecycle’s subcontractor team, she is helping firms in increasing the use of tyre derived material (TDM), including feedstock conversion. CalRecycle has funded a tyre-derived product catalogue which represents 21 different categories.
“Even with this financial support to the industry, millions of tyres are still being exported to Asian countries and used for TDF. California does not recognise TDF as recycling and therefore is always looking for alternatives to TDF to increase its recycling rate,” Kennedy revealed.
She is of the view that recycling industry needs the support of government agencies to utilise TDM or TDP. Mandatory procurement by government agencies of fleet tyres, civil engineering, flooring, roofing etc would encourage environmental friendly disposal of end of life tyres.
“To date we have not found one public agency that can require another agency to use the TDM and yet the government agencies can be the highest users of TDM or TDPs,” she affirmed.
The US tyre industry, the European Tyre Recycling Association (ETRA) and the International American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) are driving the recycled rubber standards to support sustainable solutions and long term interest in future tyre recycling avenues by accessing expert guidance, research and marketing opportunities.
She hopes that this combined input will encourage the establishment of new and modified standards for all TDM suppliers and TDP manufacturers of ELT type materials.
“One of the biggest barriers to the development of the tyre recycling sector is the lack of a single, globally recognised updated standard specifications for recycled rubber materials as the industry grows,” she said.
Consumers of materials are faced with a plethora of different specifications from every producer. Producers are working towards their own best available output. The result is that large consumers of rubber materials are faced with specification and quality challenges. That is one issue that is holding back the development of high value rubber recycling.
However, efforts are on to establish globally recognised ASTM standards for recycled tyre materials, from crumbs and powders through to recovered Carbon Black (rCB).
Kennedy is the ASTM Task Group Leader for D11.20.01 which is represented by the US and ETRA stakeholders and ASTM staff to further define ASTM D5603 (particle size distribution of recycled rubber) and ASTM D5644 (testing methods to determine particle size) to result in using sustainable material.
“I recommend that China and India participate in the ASTM meetings that are now well attended by the US and ETRA. I recommend ASTM D11 (Rubber), D24 (Carbon Black) and D04 Paving Materials if applicable. If interested in Playgrounds and Turf then it is ASTM F08.
“Our industry requires all countries to support standards to encourage short, medium and long term strategic uses of recycled tyre rubber,” Kennedy said.
The meetings also provide a networking opportunity to discuss and address new technologies. “As Task Group Leader/Chairman of ASTM D11.20.01, I urge interested parties to contact me and I will email them working documents before they go to ballot,” Kennedy said.
She said with the growing awareness about the benefit of tyre-derived fuel market, retread, landscape, sports-fields on the back of positive perceptions about environmental, commercial and economic impact and government regulations, there is an upsurge in market for TDM processor/supplier and the end user customer product.
Sustainable solutions are directly impacted by the quantity of new tyres sold and in turn quality and quantity of tyres exported and/or imported.
Retreaded tyre shipment has shown a decrease in EU in 2014 and 2015. Truck tyre retreaders in the US and other countries report a 10 per cent decline in retreadable truck tyres due to the increase in less expensive imported truck tyres.
Kennedy said most retreaders are hoping to survive following disappearance of passenger tyre retread since the 90’s. People can buy new tyres cheaper than a retread.
To continue to create sustainable solution it is imperative that high volume uses be developed that warrant the interest and funding by customers. Tyre-derived fuel has been one of the highest volume uses of tyres world-wide but it has also declined.
Government agencies need to develop strategies to include drawing up regulations on developing scrap tyres, assist in finding companies to utilise TDM and/or manufacturers of TDPs.
“These efforts will help ensure a safer environment, develop a circular economy and will ensure reusing and recycling scrap tyres properly and create a viable scrap tyre industry,” Kennedy observed.
The agencies responsible for the tyre solutions need to develop regulations that represent what they can manage including hours and money to enforce the regulations. It is not recommended to allow TDM processors/suppliers to start up a recycling operation without proven end uses and proven customers for an end use.
It is understood that the end use can disappear due to other regulatory issues or economics of alternative end uses. Governments should authorise only a bonded permitted facility with a limit to accept the whole or altered tyres from a permitted haulers.
The US has solved most of its scrap tyre pile issues by funding tyre cleanups through state-funded programmes. On the other hand, millions of tyres have been exported to Asian countries that may or may not have end uses for the tyres.
Kennedy said the first thing before starting up any new technology is to address the issue whether there will be sufficient flow of TDM for the short and long term. The question is what will happen if the market goes away? Then what is the cost to transport the TDM to the facility and the product to its end use.
Often times it is better to buy the source material from a supplier versus competing with an existing tyre processor/TDM supplier. “I would say right now there are an estimated five companies per month inquiring about setting up a pyrolysis facility or devulcanization facility in each state in the US. The cost of fuel is driving the issue in most cases and volume per hour.”
The use of rubber asphalt continues to increase though it has been a slow process even with proven technologies. It is cost effective, safe and environmentally friendly.
TDM is used for its beneficial properties in asphalt to produce rubberised binders. These are manufactured through either field blending or terminal blending processes which are then used in various applications such as hot mix asphalt (HMA), chip seals, stress absorbing membrane interlayers (SAM) and slurry seals that provide cost-effective and superior performance over applications that utilise conventional asphalt, Kennedy explained.
She said the Green Road programme has been success in the US. For example, the Department of Transportation in California was mandated by the Governor to use 35 per cent tyre rubber in its road annually. This programme has been successful.
Kennedy said scrap tyres may be mixed with coal and other fuels such as wood to be burned in concrete kilns, power plants or paper mills. In some Asian countries demand for scrap tyres have increased as an alternative fuel source which resulted in millions of tyres being baled and/or shredded and exported from many countries to Asia.
Decline in demand
As the economy has improved and the cost of fuel lessened, the demand to pay the higher dollar for the scrap tyres in baled, shredded or chipped form has declined or at least in many cases the amount of payment to the supplier has dropped.
The demand for rubber has not necessarily decreased depending on the fuel use. Some prior TDF users are now buying their energy off of the grid; some plants have closed or no longer use TDF as a fuel source. It is still the highest use of scrap tyres but has declined in overall volume globally by 10- 20 per cent depending on the geographic location.
“Currently in the US I am not aware of any state that has yet received support to utilise Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). However, there are a few states that are lobbying for EPR based on not having funds to managing a strategic state funded tyre recycling programme,” Kennedy said.
The majority of the states in the US charge a fee at the point of sale of a new tyre; point of obtaining a driver’s licence; and/or some kind of tax on some items. The amount of the budget from those fees determines the success of enforcement, agency labour force, market development and support of the industry.
“What is missing is what support will be required for the agencies to buy TDP’s from the industry which is not a priority if the agency is not funded,” she said.