The Current State of Global Tyre Recycling: Facts and Figures

By:     Kieran Donnelly

The challenge of tyre recycling is an important environmental and economic issue. Let’s dig deeper into facts and figures: Every year, millions of tyres reach the end of their useful life, the disposal poses a serious threat to the environment If not properly maintained, tyres used can create breeding grounds for mosquitoes, contribute to overcrowding of landfills and risk of fire, release of harmful pollutants into the air Recycling of these tyres is necessary to eliminate these risks.

It not only prevents negative environmental impacts but also creates valuable resources, reducing unnecessary recycling. Recycled tyres can turn this waste into useful products like rubber pavement, asphalt for roads, and even new tyres, reflecting a successful example of a circular economy The challenge is to collect, process and recycle these tyres efficiently – this is the New Technology project and a concerted effort is needed for By addressing the tyre recycling challenge, we can has turned a fundamental environmental problem into a sustainable development opportunity

The Tyre Recycling Challenge

The issue of tyre waste management is a growing global concern, with some staggering statistics that highlight the urgency of addressing this challenge. Each year, over 280 million tyres reach the end of their useful life worldwide, yet only a fraction of these – around 30 million – are retreaded or reused. This leaves an overwhelming 250 million scrap tyres needing proper disposal or recycling.

Global Scale of tyre Waste: The enormity of the issue is further underscored by the fact that over 1 billion waste tyres, also known as End-of-Life tyres (ELTs), are generated globally every year, accounting for a significant 2% of total waste production. In the United States alone, the annual production of scrap tyres amounts to approximately 280 million.

Contribution to Ocean Pollution: The impact of tyre waste extends to our oceans as well. It’s estimated that between 75 and 199 million tons of plastic are currently floating in the oceans, and tyres contribute substantially to this marine pollution. They break down into microplastics which pose a severe threat to marine life and ecosystems.

Long-Term Environmental Challenge: Like plastic bottles, which can take over 450 years to degrade, tyres also have a slow decomposition rate. This slow degradation process means that once discarded, tyres remain in the environment for centuries, posing a long-term ecological challenge.

These facts and figures illustrate the critical need for effective tyre waste management strategies. There’s an urgent requirement to develop and implement sustainable disposal methods, such as recycling and repurposing, to mitigate the environmental impact of tyre waste. Innovative approaches and technologies are essential to transform this waste stream into valuable resources, thereby contributing to a more sustainable and environmentally responsible future.

Challenges in tyre Recycling

Tyre recycling has long posed challenges due to the unique properties of rubber and the complex materials used in tyre construction:

Quality Degradation in Rubber Recycling: Rubber, unlike materials like glass or metal, faces quality degradation with repeated recycling. This degradation limits the number of times rubber from tyres can be effectively recycled, which complicates tyre recycling efforts. Unlike other recyclable materials that can retain their properties over multiple recycling cycles, rubber tends to lose its strength and flexibility, reducing its suitability for high-quality applications.

Concerns Highlighted by Bottle Recycling Rates: The decline in bottle recycling rates, from 28.7% in 2019 to 27.2% in 2020, underscores the challenges in plastic recycling practices. This decrease signals the need for more efficient recycling systems and strategies to enhance the recovery and reuse of plastic materials.

Impact of Plastic Waste on Marine Ecosystems: The issue of plastic waste in the oceans, estimated to be between 75 and 199 million tons, highlights the severe environmental impacts of improper waste disposal. This vast amount of plastic, which includes components from tyres, poses a significant threat to marine ecosystems. It affects a wide range of marine life, disrupts habitats, and contributes to the pollution of the world’s oceans.

These challenges in tyre and plastic recycling point to a need for innovative solutions and improved recycling technologies. Addressing these issues requires a concerted effort from manufacturers, consumers, and policymakers to develop and implement strategies that reduce waste generation, encourage the use of recyclable materials, and improve the overall efficiency of recycling processes. Furthermore, raising public awareness about the importance of recycling and the environmental impact of waste is crucial for driving change and achieving more sustainable waste management practices.

We do have a range of tuyre recycling equipment to tackle the waste issue on tyre recycling:

OTR Tyre Sidewall Cutter

Gradeall’s innovative approach to managing large Off the Road (OTR) tyres reflects a significant advancement in waste management, particularly in dealing with the challenges posed by the sheer size and weight of these tyres. OTR tyres, typically weighing around 600 kg each, present logistical challenges in terms of storage and transportation due to their bulkiness. Here’s a breakdown of the process and benefits:

  • OTR Splitter: This first step addresses the initial challenge of size. By halving the tyre, the OTR Splitter essentially reduces the volume and makes the subsequent handling and processing of these tyres more manageable.
  • OTR Tyre Sidewall Cutter: This machine further processes the tyres by cutting the sidewalls. Removing sidewalls is a crucial step as it makes the tyres easier to compress and bale. The sidewalls of these tyres are usually the thickest part, and cutting them away significantly reduces the bulk.
  • OTR Shear: The final step involves cutting the tyre into smaller sections. These sections are then ready to be placed in a baler. This step is vital in reducing the tyres into manageable pieces that can be easily processed.

The end result of this process is the production of PAS108 sized bales. The PAS108 specification outlines a set of requirements for producing bales of compressed tyres for use in construction projects, ensuring they meet certain safety and quality standards.

By converting massive OTR tyres into these bales, Gradeall’s system achieves several key benefits:

  • Reduced Storage Space: The baled tyres take up significantly less space, making storage more efficient and less costly.
  • Lowered Transport Costs: Smaller, more compact bales mean more material can be transported in a single trip, reducing transportation costs.
  • Environmental Impact: By facilitating the recycling of these large tyres, the system contributes to environmental sustainability. Instead of ending up in landfills, these tyres can be repurposed, reducing waste and the consumption of natural resources.

Overall, Gradeall’s system provides an effective and environmentally friendly solution for managing and recycling large OTR tyres, tackling the issues of size, weight, and transportation cost effectively. This not only benefits businesses dealing with these tyres but also contributes positively to environmental conservation efforts.

 MK2 Tyre Baler

  • High Output Efficiency: The MK2 can produce up to 6 PAS108 compliant tyre bales per hour, each bale containing between 400-500 tyres. This high-efficiency rate is particularly beneficial for operations that deal with a large volume of end-of-life tyres.
  • Significant Volume Reduction: By compressing tyres into bales, the MK2 reduces their volume by up to 80%. This reduction drastically improves the efficiency of both storage and transport. The compacted bales occupy far less space than loose tyres, making them easier and more cost-effective to handle.
  • Facilitating Transport to Processing Facilities: Once baled, the tyres are more manageable and can be more easily transported to various processing venues. These include construction projects, civil engineering sites, shredding facilities, pyrolysis plants (for converting waste into energy or other useful products), and energy recovery plants.
  • Global Supply and Versatility: Gradeall’s supply of MK2 tyre balers across the globe highlights its versatility and adaptability to different market needs. This global reach also indicates the widespread demand for efficient tyre recycling solutions.
  • Ideal for Various Businesses: The MK2 tyre baler is suited for a range of businesses involved in tyre collection and processing, including recycling centers, vehicle dismantlers, and tyre depots. Its ability to handle high volumes makes it an ideal choice for these operations, which often deal with a significant number of end-of-life tyres.
  • Environmental Impact: By facilitating the recycling and repurposing of tyres, the MK2 tyre baler contributes significantly to environmental sustainability. It aids in diverting tyres from landfills, reducing environmental pollution, and supporting the circular economy through the recycling and reuse of materials.

The Gradeall MK2 Tyre Baler is a powerful tool in the arsenal of waste management and recycling, particularly for those dealing with the high-volume processing of tyres. Its efficiency in producing PAS108 compliant bales not only makes transportation and storage more efficient but also plays a critical role in promoting sustainable practices in tyre recycling.

The Road Ahead

Navigating the challenges of tyre recycling requires a multi-faceted approach, focusing on innovation, sustainability, and public engagement. Here’s how we can pave the way forward:

Advanced Recycling Technologies: Investing in and developing advanced technologies for tyre recycling is crucial. This includes methods to efficiently process tyre materials and extract valuable components for reuse. For example, technologies that can break down rubber into its original components or convert it into new materials can revolutionise the way we handle tyre waste. These technologies not only make recycling more efficient but also open up new avenues for using recycled tyre materials.

How can we help with Tyre Recyling?

Here at Gradeall we are known for providing waste management and recycling solutions, including those for tyre recycling.

Promoting a Circular Economy: Adopting a circular economy approach for tyres is another key strategy. This involves designing tyres with recycling in mind, making it easier to dismantle and repurpose them at the end of their life. It encourages manufacturers to consider the entire lifecycle of the tyre, from design and production to disposal and recycling. In a circular economy, tyres are not seen as waste at the end of their life but as valuable resources that can be continuously cycled back into new products.

Awareness and Education: Public education and awareness are vital components in tackling the tyre waste issue. Many people are unaware of the importance of responsible tyre disposal and the available recycling options. Educational campaigns can inform the public about how to properly dispose of tyres and the environmental benefits of recycling them. This can be done through community programs, partnerships with local governments and businesses, and social media outreach.

The road ahead in tyre recycling is one of innovation, sustainable practices, and public participation. By exploring advanced recycling technologies, promoting a circular economy, and raising public awareness, we can make significant strides toward a cleaner, more sustainable future. Each recycled tyre is a step towards reducing our environmental footprint and rolling towards a greener planet.

Workers at a recycling facility loading drinks cans into a Gradeall Can Baler.

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