More Than Twenty Thousand Tonnes of Tyres Were Recycled in the First Half of 2019

In a dozen tyre treatment plants in our country, tyres are  collected  through  a  collection  network  organised  by  recyclers.  This  network  includes  its  collecti-on  system,  as  well  as  individuals  and  legal  entity  collectors  with  whom  it  cooperates.  Tyres  also  get  to recycling centres from the waste producers such as tyre repair  shops,  agricultural  goods,  landfills,  industry,  rubber,  mining and transportation companies, pneumatic manufacturers and distributors.

Photo: Aleksandar Mijalkovic

In Serbia, the “polluter pays” principle applies, which is derived from the EU legislation. It means that tyre importers and manufacturers are required to pay the environmental  tax  and  this  money  to  be  used  for  safely  disposing  of  tyres when they become waste.

The collection of the environmental tax has been increasing  year  by  year.  However,  according  to  information  from  the Recyclers Association of Serbia, the payment of incen-tive  funds  for  tyre  disposal  and  all  special  waste  streams  has  been  overdue  for  more  than  a  year.  The  incentive  has  been paid in a lower amount than the waste companies processed. Last year, the state paid 34 per cent fewer incentives for  the  treatment  of  waste  that  has  already  been  collected  and processed by recyclers. A total of 42,000 tonnes of tyres were  treated  last  year.  It  follows  that  treatment  of  14  million  kilograms  of  tyres  remains  unpaid,  the  Association  remarks.  By  the  time  the  third  quarter  ends,  recyclers  will  have not yet received a dime of incentive funds.

The  process  of  recycling  waste  tyres  is  not  a  highly  profitable business, because the incentive funds cover only a  fraction  of  costs  of  the  collection  network,  waste  transportation  and  the  challenging  and  expensive  treatment  technology of this type of waste. Only a high-volume production and a placement of products derived from the recycling process can generate some profit.

Adverse effects of waste tyres on the environment

The Association points out that waste tyres belong to special  waste  streams,  along  with  batteries,  accumulators,  waste  oils,  waste  from  electronic  and  electrical  products.  They require special waste management from the place of generation, collection, transportation and treatment. Otherwise, they can have negative consequences on the environment and human health if inadequately disposed of.

When properly discarded, waste tyres do not cause soil, water and air pollution. However, there are some situations with  a  potentially  adverse  impact  on  the  environment,  which is mainly related to tyre’s high flammability and the risk of fire in landfills.

By improper tyre burning, the smoke that contains many harmful  substances  is  released  into  the  atmosphere.  Toxic  gases  dioxins  and  furans,  which  negatively  affect  human  health  and  the  environment  are  emitted  and  often  have  a  high carcinogenic effect. Also, the melting of tyres produc-es  liquid  contaminants  that  penetrate  the  soil  and  can  be  hazardous if they reach the surface and groundwaters.

Due  to  their  shape  and  specific  density,  pneumatics  cannot be disposed of in a way where the available space is efficiently used, which, as a consequence, requires the provision of large landfills. During the warm rainy season, the interior  of  a  tyre  in  a  landfill  is  partially  filled  with  water  and becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes, rodents.

New products from recycled rubber granules

The  tyre  recycling  process  produces  rubber  granulate  (65  per  cent),  steel  wire  (35  per  cent)  and  fabric  (5  per  cent).  The separation of the components is done by the action of a  magnet  and  air  current.  The  only  energy  source  used  is  electricity.  No  chemical  reagents  or  thermal  reactions  are  used,  so  no  waste  substance  is  generated.  It  is  especially  important that there is no environmental pollution in this process as a side effect.

The  rubber  granules  obtained  by  cutting  the  tyres  are  manufactured  in  different  sizes  depending  on  dimensions  that  companies  require  for  further  production.  The  small-est dimension to which a tire is recycled is half a millimetre.  The  steel  wire  is  used  in  foundries  and  thus  returned  to  the  production  process,  and  cement  plants  most  commonly use the fabric as fuel.

Recycling of tyres conserves resources because of variety of products that can be made of rubber granulate, such as  substrates  for  sports  fields,  children’s  playgrounds,  linings  for  roof  insulation,  floor  insulation  material,  sound  barriers  in  construction,  waterproof  membranes,  porous  bituminous binder, rubber tubes, trash cans, aggregate for asphalt  mixers  for  road  construction,  auto  parts  (brakes,  interior components, steering wheels, bulkheads), barn linings and others.