New Europe-Wide Report Sheds Light on ELT Business - Tire Review Magazine

New Europe-Wide Report Sheds Light on ELT Business

(Clacton, U.K./Tyres & Accessories) With the implementation of the tyre landfill ban rapidly approaching and following the publication of ETRMA’s (European Tyre and Rubber Manufacturer’s Association) first comprehensive report on end-of-life tyre management, Tyres & Accessories takes a look at the findings and reports on the development of the U.K.’s free market system, publishing the most recent pan-European data on this segment.

While the ETRMA (in its former guise as BLIC) has made European end-of-life tyre (ELT) figures available for some time, this year is the first time the newly re-formed association has given such a detailed overview of the EU15 and enlarged European tyre recovery and recycling business.

According to figures, the U.K. is the second largest producer of ELTs after Germany (585,000 tonnes). As you would expect, these figures run broadly in parallel with the size of the overall markets in the various European nations. The U.K. is the second largest market (475,000 tonnes), followed by France (398,000), Italy (380,000) and Spain (305,000). With the exception of Poland (146,000 tonnes), all other EU15 and Enlarged EU countries produce less than 100,000 tonnes of tyres arising.

The U.K.’s free-market system currently treats 85% of the 475,000 tonnes arising. Some 121,000 tonnes come under the “part-worn” category. Of these 34,000 tonnes are exported, with 55,000 tonnes reused in various retreading processes. Interestingly 32,000 tonnes of part-worn tyres appear to be reused in the U.K. market. This figure is the largest in Europe – the next closest are Italy (30,000 tonnes) and France (20,000) tonnes. However proportionally, the U.K.’s large total market size means that part-worn re-use only equates to 6.7% of the market as opposed to 7.9% in Italy.

The Responsible Recycler Scheme has played a key part in the success that has led to the U.K.’s 85% recovery figure. And in the last year the scheme and members of the Tyre Recovery Association (TRA) have broken their own impressive records for improvement. Statistics recently released by the Tyre Recovery Association show that for the first time members of the association (all of whom are affiliated to the TIC Responsible Recycler Scheme) collectively recovered over 320,000 tonnes of waste tyres in 2005. This represented more than a 12% increase over the 2004 figure (285,000 tonnes) and is the first time the scheme has passed the 300,000 tonnes barrier. Indications suggest this figure will rise even further in 2006.

In response to the news, association president Roger Hicks commented: “This is a remarkable figure to have achieved in the few short years the scheme and our association have been operating. Even more noteable is the fact that the TIC Responsible Recycler Scheme is a voluntary best practice initiative. To have conquered 70% of all U.K. waste tyre arisings in this way is a hugely satisfying achievement. This performance probably makes this the largest tyre recovery scheme of its kind anywhere in the world, a fact the U.K. tyre industry can be really proud of.”

Hicks continued: “Since its launch less than two years ago our association has tried extraordinarily hard to grow its membership and demonstrate an ability to deliver an efficient transparent and accountable recovery programme. These latest results are a measure of the progress we are making.”

The landfill ban is nearly here

Another interesting fact that the ETRMA figures highlight is proportion of tyres that went to landfill in each of the respective markets last year. With the July landfill ban almost upon us, the figures show that there are still plenty of opportunities for recovery and disposal companies to help improve each nation’s recovery figures. Looking at the EU15 nations (the new members of the enlarged EU obviously still need to get up to speed) the Republic of Ireland appears to be the worst offender as far as land filling is concerned. The ETRMA numbers show that 85 per cent of Ireland’s total ELT figure (34,000 tonnes) went to landfill. In terms of volume, Spain’s total is also shockingly high. This nation is reported to have landfilled 144,000 tonnes from a total arising of 305,000 tonnes.

However, of the many nations with good overall tyre recovery rates, the U.K. landfill figures stand out. The U.K. may recover 85% of the total 475,000 tyres arising, but prior to the impending ban 70,000 tonnes still ended up at landfill. The question is what will happen to the tyres after July? And, specifically, which destinations will absorb the surplus?

One concern for the recycling and recovery business, believe it or not, is the influx of low priced far-eastern produced new tyre products. As these cheap imports put pressure on the retreading market and the number of retreaders consolidates, a valuable part of the recovery/recycling chain is lost.

However, speaking to some of the industry’s largest players reveals that they are confident that they have sufficient structures in place to absorb the additional tyre arisings that were formerly being sent to landfill. And it is clear that the leading players and reprocessing companies including Sapphire Energy Recovery, Credential Environmental, Charles Lawrence and Murfitts Industries have put their money where there mouth is in this respect, with a number of significant investment and expansion programmes.

“Over the past few years Sapphire has invested £12 million in expanded storage and capacity. The cement industry has also backed this up with significant investment. And I am sure the wider industry is prepared to take on extra tonnage,” Ryan Mifflin, Sapphire Energy Recovery’s sales and marketing manager, commented.

But it is clear that it will take more than one company to absorb the additional capacity that the landfill ban will create. “Every sector of industry needs to stop thinking of tyres as waste and start considering their huge potential,” commented Colin Clements of rubber recovery specialists Border Associates.

Slowly but surely a range of engineering and manufacturing sectors are recognising the benefits of using recycled rubber as a secondary raw material. When combined with polymers and resins, rubber crumb forms a material that is exceptionally hard wearing, non-slip, non-flammable, offers excellent adhesion and will not freeze. “We are currently working on a number of railway and marine engineering projects,” Colin Clements continues. “But this really is the tip of the iceberg. The material can be used in the manufacture of new products too. It’s just a question of time before more forward-thinking entrepreneurs tap into this new material.”

The fact remains that many already have.

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