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PTA News Bureau

Recycling of end-of-life tyres is on the upturn backed by new technology and increasing awareness about environment sustainability. Driving this growth is the Paris-based European Tyre Recycling Association (ETRA), an independent body of over 250 tyre recycling professionals in 43 countries.Waste-tyres300

ETRA, set up to promote business and technology for tyre recycling, is developing global reach under Dr Valerie L Shulman, ETRA’s Secretary General. Since 1989 she has been studying the issues concerning European Union’s mounting waste tyre problems.

Being a pioneer in tyre recycling, she gives many insights into the recycling industry’s environment and business potentials. In this interview she examines the state of the tyre recycling industry in Europe, the current legislation and regulations for its growth, and reviews the challenges and opportunities, including emerging technologies, in this sector.

“Tyre recycling has continued to grow exponentially within the EU during the past twenty years,” she told Polymers & Tyre Asia. “The technologies used, the materials produced and the products and applications resulting from various treatments have all expanded so that today, in 2015, recycled tyre materials are used in more than fifty different industries from civil engineering and construction, to vibration and noise reduction products, to shoes and sports equipment, as well as mixes and compounds for sophisticated applications.”

Early on, in 1992, before ETRA became a European Association, estimates were that in the then 12 EU Member States, over 2,175,400 tonnes of tyres were permanently removed from vehicles each year. Only 5 per cent of them were materially recycled, while the preponderance balance was disposed in landfills.

By 2013, estimates showed that more than 3,400,000 tonnes of post-consumer tyres were collected in the 28 Member States and Norway – of which almost 40 per cent underwent some form of material recycling, she said.

Recycling models

It is important to note that the vast majority of tyres in the EU are collected, and treated in an environmentally sound manner, Dr Shulman said. Five basic tyre management models operate successfully within the EU ranging from ‘full producer responsibility’ ‘negotiated responsibility’ to free-market systems.

Each model is adapted to the size, area and available infrastructure of the State; to national policy, legislation and goals; as well as to pre-existing roots for the system – often including older networks such as retreading.

(Full Text in PTA Feb/March issue)

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