A tyre’s journey – Where do end-of-life tyres go?

The global business in waste tyres is growing exponentially. According to United Nations earlier this year, the international trade of waste tyres has almost doubled in the past five years. In 2018 2 million tonnes (equivalent of 200 million tyres) of rubber waste was traded internationally, compared to just 1.1 million tonnes of 2013.

But what exactly happens to a tyre, once it reaches the end of its lifecycle? End-of-life tyres (ELTs) are generally regarded as a difficult material to process, but in this blog post we go through the journey a tyre takes through its lifecycle and the possibilities for additional value ELTs can offer.

A tyre enters the market

A tyre first enters the market by being imported or manufactured in the region. From here the tyres enter service via various means, such as car manufacturers, tyre dealers and logistics companies.

Worn tyres leave the road

Tyres that are too worn are removed from the circulation in yearly check-ups and replaced with new ones. In many countries the tyre manufacturers are by law responsible for organizing the recycling of ELTs. For example, in Finland tyre recycling is handled by Finnish Tyre Recycling Ltd (Suomen Rengaskierrätys Oy). The threshold for replacing old tyres with new ones is further lowered by tyre stores and maintenance shops in accepting ELTs free of charge.

Storing, sorting & shredding

ELTs are then sorted and stored in collection points, from where they are transported to a local recycling plant for further processing. The tyres are cut or shredded to various different sizes depending on the need. The TANA Shark slow-speed shredders are especially suitable for tyre shredding, as they deliver a homogenous end-product with a wide range of particle sizes.

A new life through recycling

Today ELTs are rarely put in a landfill. In fact, in most European countries and increasingly around the world it is forbidded by law. While shredded tyres take significantly less space, there are various useful and valuable ways the material can be re-used.

Granulated rubber from ELTs can be used for example as a filter in water purification or as a filler in earthworks or in asphalt production. ELTs can be used as fuel by various industries, where the homogenous particle size offered by TANA Shark shredders are extremely desirable.

Check out video on how end-of-life tyres are shredded into 80 mm (3”) in just one pass