Tyre recycling: Where to dispose of them?
The production and disposal of tyres is a problem for the environment due to their chemical composition. A large amount of energy is consumed in the manufacturing process of tyres and, once their useful life is over, they tend to end up in landfill without any type of treatment that produces a high level of pollution. That is why it is so important to encourage their recovery and recycling. In this article, you can find out all you need to know about tyre disposal.
What is tyre recycling?
A tyre is made up of rubber, steel, textiles and other elements that reinforce the resistance of rubber. But how is it recycled?
When a tyre can no longer guarantee the mobility of a vehicle, in accordance with safety standards (adherence, stability, traction, steering, shock absorption and load bearing), it has to be recycled and recovered in various ways (in its entirety, in pieces or shredded).
- The benefits of end-of-life tyre recycling:
- Conservation of the environment;
- Energy saving;
- Reduction of the emissions of polluting substances.
Collecting old tyres for recycling
Before recycling, the collection of used tyres is necessary. Once their useful life is over, the car mechanics and garages are responsible for storing used tyres from individuals free of charge. If you change your used tyres in at a car mechanic, they will take care of recycling the tyres. In the case of changing them yourself, you should look up ‘tyre disposal near me’ and find out where the best and safest place is to take your used tyres.
Burning tires at home is illegal and very harmful to the environment.
In addition, used tyres can also be entrusted to specialised organisations, such as Tyre Recycling UK, who take care of collecting and recycling them or even recovering them completely free of charge.
Waste tyre disposal in the UK: What are your options?
Tyres that need to be recycled are classed as ‘hazardous waste’. In the UK, the Landfill Regulations Act 2002 banned whole tyres from being taken to landfill sites. In addition,since the 2006 EU Landfill Directive, end-of-life or shredded tyres have also been banned from landfill.
Private households and businesses must, under law, dispose of their tyres in the correct way. Fortunately there are a number of options such as tyre dealers, garages, car mechanic and waste collection points. As mentioned, there are also groups that exist dedicated to collecting tyres and either taking them to tyre recycling machines to be shredded into rubber or re-used.
Tyre disposal cost: What do I have to pay?
Most places that recycle tyres will take them free of charge. You should contact your local council if you are in doubt and they will give you advice and information on your next steps. Alternatively, search online for ‘free tyre disposal near me’ to find out your local tyre disposal point.
The tyre recycling process in the UK
Because tyres are made of a mixture of steel, rubber, textiles, oils and other chemicals, they are very difficult to recycle. Some tyres also contain oil and other contaminants having been used over a long period of time and those must also be disposed of.
Tyres that have reached the end of their useful life are often granulated to ensure that the various materials within the individual tyre can be retrieved and potentially used for other purposes.
In most cases, however, tyre recycling takes place using one of three methods:
- Recycled rubber can be used in refurbishing, e.g. re-treading an old, used tyre;
- Tyre recycling plants can incinerate the old tyres to produce energy for use in manufacturing;
- Recycled tyres can be broken down and reconstituted for use in new products.
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What are recycled tyres used for?
Once car tyre recycling has taken place, the materials retrieved from them can be used in many ways across different industries. There are four main ways a tyre can be recycled, depending on its state when disposed of:
- Re-treading: Old tyres that still have enough structural integrity can be remoulded using recycled rubber treads, extending their life and creating ‘like-new’ tyres. It is estimated that 50% of truck and bus tyres in the UK have been re-treaded;
- Re-use: Scrap rubber collected from recycled tyres can be used in construction materials, deployed as a material in roads as well as sound-proof walls, bridge foundations and more;
- Energy recovery: Through a process called pyrolysis, end-of-life tyres can generate gas and oil, replacing coal in some instances (such as in cement kilns and paper mills) – all helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
- Recycling: Once all the other materials such as steel have been removed, rubber from tyres can be shredded and ground into a new material called crumb rubber, which is used in a surprising variety of products.
Can rubber be recycled?
Rubber from car tyre recycling can be used in a number of different ways. In most cases, the rubber is shredded, reducing it to a fine, granular consistency. This can then be used in a number of different ways, for example:
- Playground flooring;
- Carpet underlay;
- Rubberised asphalt for road surfaces;
- Speed bumps;
- Running tracks and sports pitches;
- Mud guards for vehicles.
In the case of rubberised asphalt for roads, trials have proven that this can help make roads quieter. Rubberised asphalt was used on some of Scotland’s busiest roads – between Perth and Dundee – and it was found that not only did the surface offer adequate grip, it was quieter than traditional tarmac.
The future of tyres and tyre recycling
As we become more conscious of the environmental impact of tyres and disposing of them in a safe way, the UK is leading the way in finding new, greener solutions to recycling tyres. In many regions across the country, tyre recycling plants are using advanced conversion technology meaning they can turn tyres and polyolefin plastics into valuable outputs such as power and fuel.
Tyre manufacturers are also playing their part in the change to a more sustainable future. Michelin, one of the most recognised names in the tyre manufacturing world, aims to use 80% sustainable materials and recycle 100% of its tyres by 2048.
Facts about car tyre recycling in the UK
To highlight the importance of recycling tyres in the correct manner and doing your bit to help combat the issue of global warming, here are some facts about tyre recycling:
- More than 486,000 tonnes of used tyres (around 55 million tyres) are generated annually in the UK;
- Around 42,000 old tyres are needed to be recycled to create an Astroturf pitch;
- A running track can use up to 13,500 recycled tyres;
- Around 87% of used tyres are diverted from landfill sites across Europe. 34% are recycled, 32% are incinerated for energy production and the remainder are sent for retreading.