Tires Recycling

In the EU, dumping used tires has long since been prohibited. Even so, approx. 4% of used tires in the EU still end up on landfills or are otherwise disposed of illegally. This problem is even worse on a global scale. The often-applied practice of using waste tires as fuel does not make much sense from the viewpoint of ecology and the overall economy, as the basic materials from which tires are made (mainly rubber and oil for the production of synthetic rubber and carbon black) must be extracted over and over again. Other strategies for using scrap tires that have been applied so far (as granules for flooring or as an additive to asphalt, etc.) do not reduce the consumption of resources either. Only true circular systems in which commodities are recovered and fed back into the cycle can permanently reduce the consumption of raw materials.

Waste tire total/year

The future of the tire market

Today the automotive industry already feeds a large part of materials from used vehicles back into the resource cycle. This trend is going to become stronger in the future. In the case of used tires, feeding them back into the cycle is hardly possible at this point. Since technological alternatives are lacking, technical research, and often even the work of politicians, has so far mainly been focused on reducing the road resistance of tires so as to diminish fuel consumption. Taking this step no doubt does make sense. However, establishing a resource cycle for tires starts earlier by reducing the consumption of fossil fuels even during the production of tires – a major step in the right direction, for the environment and just as well for business.

Since 2008, European automotive manufacturers have had to document a material recycling rate of approx. 90% of the material weight of new vehicles. Up to 5% of materials may be utilized thermally. Most used tires are utilized thermally (i.e. burned and thus used for heating). Since it makes up 2–3% of the total weight of a car, the material use of scrap tires considerably increases the total recycling rate of used automobiles. We are thus already taking a major step forward in meeting the mandatory target rates.