Where do used tyres end up?

A responsible vehicle owner regularly has to solve this problem every few years. Driving with old tyres is very dangerous. This article will answer the question of used tyres.

In Europe, 6.5 – 7 kg tyres are used for passenger cars and 50 – 70 kg tyres are used for trucks. If the tyre gets worn out and further use is not possible, it means that the tyre has become waste. Discarded tyres have a special waste category. At the end of their life, tyres are often stored in large piles or they are just thrown out in nature. Such waste is a new source of material for other processing companies.

In Slovakia, the rate of produced waste from collected used tyres represents 23,000 tonnes annually, and in Czech Republic, according to the data of the Ministry of Environment from 2016, it concerns the production of almost 90,000 tonnes of waste tyres.

The handling of used tyres is a long-term problem in our country. According to the Waste Management Plan of the Slovak Republic for the 2016 – 2020 horizon, Slovakia faces a possible increase in the amount of waste tyres. E.g., according to Slovak statistical data from 2013, the number of such tyres increased by 50% compared to 2011. The overall rate of landfills in Slovakia is almost doubled than in the Czech Republic. Unfortunately, a huge amount of such waste ends without use in landfills and only 2-3% of the waste is energetically recovered.

The more than a quarter million tonnes of discarded tyres in Central Europe (Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Austria, Hungary) represents an attractive business opportunity via the energetic use of tyres through pyrolysis in cement factories, despite the higher initial investment for the necessary technology. Regarding the increasing trend of continuously increasing fleets sizes, our company estimates a slight annual increase of the mentioned amount.

The increased amount of waste tyres does not secure the potential increase of their recovery. In our environment, there still are not enough companies with the necessary innovative technology for processing the given waste with the lowest impact on ecology. The municipalities gathering tyres at collection areas have the biggest problem, which in the worst case means illegal dumping. The situation is caused by the high costs related to the transport and processing of this kind of waste.

In Slovakia, similarly to Czech Republic, there is legislation requiring tyre sellers and tyre repair shops to take back tyres.

The company UNIPRO SPE01 SE decided to use the potential of the tyre. In collaboration with experts from the University of Technology in Bratislava, we prepared a complicated project resulting in complete material recovery through pyrolysis.

Pyrolysis as the first manufacture phase produces three basic outputs from the input. The first basic output is pyrolysis gas representing 10% of the pyrolytic product. The second product is carbon which represents 35-40% of the production. The third product is an oil product which represents 50-55% of the production. The key fact is that the whole process does not represent an environmental burden.

We believe that the ecological recovery of waste is a chance for our future and the future of generations to come.