U.K. Tyre Recycling Facts; A Global Issue

By:     Kieran Donnelly

In this article, we’ll tell you everything that you need to know about tyre recycling in the U.K. Although the issue of tyre waste extends far beyond the confines of the U.K., it is a global problem, but it can be solved with local efforts. 

We will explore the legal requirements and responsibilities of waste tyre disposal, the tyre recycling industry and how you can play your part in improving the waste tyre disposal process. 

Gradeall is a world-class manufacturer of tyre recycling machinery. providing high-spec machinery that streamlines the tyre recycling process. We are committed to helping businesses dispose of their waste tyres in accordance with the law and to aid in the global effort of keeping them out of our landfills. 

What is an end-of-life tyre? 

An end-of-life tyre is a tyre that is considered no longer safe to use on a vehicle. It is considered an end-of-life tyre after it has already been retreaded or regrooved.

When a tyre is at the end of its product life cycle, it must be disposed of in a responsible and safe manner. This is to prevent environmental damage, prevent toxic chemicals from leaching, protect wildlife, protect human life, and reduce the likelihood of tyre fires, among many other risks that improperly disposed of tyres pose. 

The importance of tyre recycling 

Waste tyres pose detrimental risks to the environment, the climate and surrounding life if they are not managed properly. There is a shared responsibility among tyre manufacturers, businesses that deal with end-of-life tyres and personal owners of waste tyres, to deal with them in a safe and responsible manner.

Gradeall provides industry-standard tyre disposal machinery such as tyre balers, tyre sidewall cutters, etc to aid in their proper disposal. Those involved in managing waste tyres should be aware of their innate risks and their duty of responsibility to avoid them. 

1. Every minute 3300 waste tyres are produced in the world.

This is a shocking statistic and it’s made even more shocking when you do the maths and realise that this is nearly 5 million tyres produced globally per day (4,752,000 tyres to be exact). This demonstrates a real need for worldwide effort in pursuing tyre recycling methods on a global scale. 

2. Tyre fires can last up to 15 years and cause detrimental health problems. 

Tyre fires are extremely unfriendly to the environment and surrounding life. Tyres are made of a highly combustible material and once alight, they are extremely difficult to put out, with some lasting over a decade. They affect the air quality and contaminate the ground below. 

Tyre fires also release a thick black smog that is full of toxic chemicals and oils, they can cause harm to the surrounding wildlife and their habitats, in addition to having a direct impact on human health, such as causing upper respiratory problems such as asthma and leading to increased cancer diagnosis. 

3. Whole tyres can create stagnant water and lead to cases of malaria.

When rain falls, it can collect at the bottom of waste tyres, creating the perfect environment for stagnant water to form. In a hotter climate, this can even lead to increased cases of malaria as the infecting mosquitoes are attracted to pools of stagnant water.

4. Waste tyres release methane gas. 

Waste tyres are not a biodegradable material, and when exposed to the sun, they will contribute to the greenhouse effect by releasing methane gases into the air. The toxic chemicals can also leach into the ground and contaminate the surrounding area. 

Tyre recycling solutions 

Despite posing a risk to the environment and climate, waste tyres can be put to putter use with proper tyre recycling methods. They have many repurposing methods that promote a greener economy and prevent them from ending up as wasted material.

5. Waste tyres can be made into a rubber crumb. 

The rubber crumb is then used for moulded rubber components, which is a process that repurposes them into a new reusable product. The rubber crumb is also used for playground surfaces, due to its shock-absorbing properties.

soft playground surface

6. Waste tyres can be used for embankments. 

When baled together, waste tyres are great for acting as a strong foundation under soft grounds. Due to their anti-absorbent properties, they also work great for embankments, preventing flooding in certain areas.

Gradeall provides high-spec tyre baler machinery, such as the MK11 Tyre Baler, the MK3 Tyre Baler, and the Truck Tyre Baler. This equipment aids in making it more convenient for businesses to contribute to tyre recycling methods.


7. Waste tyres can be used in cement production. 

Waste tyres can also act as an alternative fuel source in cement production, significantly reducing the number of fossil fuels used and preventing tyres from being dumped into landfills. Issues still remain regarding air pollution, however, the level of pollutants are still lower if they were to be burnt in the open atmosphere. 

8. Waste tyres can be used as a plant pot substitute. 

There is an increasing trend for upcycling waste tyres into substitute plant potters. Some local schools and community groups will accept donations of waste tyres for this purpose, but it is not a sustainable method for disposing of large quantities of waste tyres.

Tyre Recycling in the U.K.

The U.K. has shown great progress in its tyre recycling efforts in the last 20 years. It has demonstrated a long-term commitment towards a zero-waste economy and enhanced the tyre recycling process as part of this objective.

Check out these tyre recycling facts of the U.K. below. 

9. Around 55 million waste tyres are generated in the U.K. every year. 

10. Nearly 100% of UK waste tyres are recycled or reused.

This is a great step forward in achieving a zero-waste economy. It also highlights the positive impact that businesses are having towards their waste tyre disposal processes.

Gradeall has built a strong reputation for being an industry leader in manufacturing high-quality tyre recycling machinery, making it more convenient for U.K. businesses to implement tyre recycling processes onsite. 

11. Around 15% of waste tyres in the U.K. are used for retreading or regrooving.

Retreaded tyres are used to improve the longevity and lifespan of a tyre. It is a process that layers a new tread on top of an old worn tread. Retreaded tyres are legal in the U.K. and considered safe to use on a vehicle, although a few car manufacturers will advise against using them on certain models.

They are a much cheaper method than purchasing new tyres, however, it is common for retreaded tyres to have a shorter lifespan, lasting only a few thousand miles.

Regrooved tyres undergo a process where a new tread is carved into its rubber. This is done to achieve the desired tread depth and restore its pattern. They are legal within the U.K. but this process must be conducted by an experienced technician as an incorrect pattern is both illegal and extremely dangerous. 

The tyres must have a suitable amount of remaining rubber in order to hold its integrity and maintain the tread pattern. It is also illegal to use retreaded tyres on a vehicle with a gross mass weight that is less than 3.5 tonnes.

12. In the U.K., 25% of waste tyres are turned into rubber crumb. 

13. 15% of waste tyres are used for cement production in the U.K.

14. 35% of waste tyres in the U.K. are exported, primarily for cement kilns or pyrolysis.

15. The U.K. is seeking to reduce the number of waste tyres that are exported. 

Recently, the Norwegian company Wastefront secured a deal with Gateway Resources to launch a £100m Port in Sunderland. This will provide a waste tyre management solution on U.K. soil, without having to rely on other countries for external handling. 

Tyre recycling U.K. legislation 

Legislation has had a direct effect on the success of the tyre recycling initiative in the U.K. It clearly outlines the legal obligations and duty of responsibility that manufacturers, businesses and individuals have in regard to waste tyre management. 

16. Under the Landfill Regulation Act (2002) whole tyres are banned from being dumped in U.K. landfill sites. 

17. Under the EU Landfill Directive (2006) this was extended to include end-of-life and shredded tyres from being dumped in U.K. landfill sites. 

18. Local tyre recycling facilities usually only accept waste tyres for personal use, commercial waste tyres, usually have to pay a disposal charge. 

19. Tyre dealers and vehicle manufacturers must ensure that their waste tyres are handled by a registered waste carrier. 

These are just a few general points of the U.K. legislation surrounding waste tyre disposal. Depending on your role within this industry, you may have to adhere to stricter guidelines and invest in more profitable tyre waste management solutions.

Check out the range of tyre recycling machinery at Gradeall and improve the efficiency of your tyre recycling operation. 

U.K. legislation for storing recycled tyres portside

If tyres are being stored near the dockside, they will have to follow stricter rules and regulations. There have been recent guidelines produced by the Environmental Agency in 2020, in order to satisfy the UK’s Tyre Recovery Association (TRA) members. These regulations are set to be revised again post-2021.

20.  A maximum of 5000 tonnes of tyre shred or tyre chip can be stored at any one-time portside.

21.  A maximum of 1500 tonnes of clean-cut tyre shred or tyre chip, can be contained within one storage stack. 

22. Storage stacks of waste tyre materials are limited to 5m in height. 

23. Storage stacks must not be within 6m of each other, in order to prevent potential  fire hazard risks. 

24. You must have written permission from the port authority to store tyre shred portside. 

Again, these are just a few exertions from the legal legislation of storing tyre shred and chip portside. It is best to contact your local authority in order to find out what your regional restrictions are. 

If you need to manage your waste tyre material in order to store it portside, Gradeall provides a range of machinery for tyre cutting and baling, ensuring you can meet legal obligations and increase the effectiveness of your waste tyre recycling process. 

U.K. Legislation for the storage and mechanical treatment of end-of-life tyres for recovery

In the U.K., there are specific rules and regulations on how end-of-life tyres should be treated and subsequently stored. These rules apply to sites and businesses that accept end-of-life tyres or are responsible for handling them. 

25. Waste tyre treatment is limited to; manual sorting, granulating, baling, peeling, shaving, shredding, cutting, repairing and retreading.

16. A site cannot accept more than 5000 tonnes of end-of-life tyres per year.

17. A site cannot contain more than 100 tonnes of end-of-life tyres at one time. 

18. A site cannot be within 200m of a Marine Conservation Zone, or a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

This rule also extends to include a European Site or Ramsar. 

19. A site cannot be within 50m of a National Nature Reserve.

This rule also extends to include Local Nature Reserves, Local Wildlife Sites, Ancient Woodlands, Scheduled Monuments or priority species and habitats. 

20. A site cannot be within 50m of water that is used for human consumption.

This particular rule includes wells, springs, boreholes and private water supplies. 

These strict regulations of tyre storage and mechanical treatment are instrumental in ensuring a collective effort to deal with this type of waste. 

At Gradeall, we provide an impressive fleet of tyre recycling machinery, helping businesses and manufacturers develop a waste tyre management system that allows them to act in accordance with the law and improve the efficiency of their process.

Benefits of recycling tyres and tyre recycling machinery 

It is a legal requirement for businesses and manufacturers to properly dispose of their waste tyres. With high-spec tyre recycling machinery, businesses can streamline this process and even create other revenues of income. 

21. Businesses can make money from the steel of waste tyres.

If a business is dealing with a surplus of waste tyres, it is advisable that they invest in machinery in order to extract the waste steel or alloy from the rubber part of the tyre. 

Gradeall provides two types of tyre recycling machinery for conducting this process; the Truck Tyre Rim Separator for dealing with large lorry or agriculture tyres, and the original Tyre Rim Separator, used for dealing with smaller, passenger types vehicles. 

The revenue generated from the waste metal will offset the cost of the equipment and provide another source of income, in addition to making the tyres easier to manage without the remaining steel or alloy.

22. Tyre balers reduced tyre volume by up to 80%. 

For businesses that need to dispose of large volumes of waste tyres, tyre balers are the ideal option. They reduce the tyre storage volume by up to 80% which means more waste tyres can be transported to their final destination, helping businesses save on fuel, recycling fees and labour costs.

Gradeall provides two types of tyre baler machinery; The MK2 Tyre Baler, which is capable of producing tyre bales containing 400-500 tyres per hour and the MK3 Tyre Baler, which is a larger baler with a more powerful ram. 

23. A portable tyre baler can be used on different sites. 

In addition to providing two types of tyre balers that can be installed onsite, Gradeall has also manufactured the Portable Tyre Baler. This equipment allows the tyres to be baled directly onsite, which removes the need for high transport costs and deals with the situation at its location. 

Tyre Recycling is made easier with Gradeall

Gradeall is a global provider of tyre recycling machinery. We supply our equipment to recycling operations, tyre manufacturers, car dealers, etc, all around the world, pursuing the global effort to minimise this type of waste.

Our range of tyre recycling machinery is built to last, providing your operation with a reliable piece of equipment that will streamline operations, improve workplace efficiency, and ultimately, save costs for your business.

If you would like to hear more about our range of machinery or have any queries regarding our tyre recycling equipment, feel free to get in contact with Gradeall.

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