Nearly all tyres in Finland are recycled. The tyre recycling system in Finland is run by a single producer organization with one operator. Approximately 60,000 tons of tyres are recycled in Finland each year.
As in other Scandinavian countries, Finland uses the Nordic approach to recycling tyres. Practically all tyre importers and manufacturers are members of the producer organization Finnish Tyre Recycling Ltd, which oversees producer responsibility throughout the country.
When consumers purchase new tyres in Finland, they pay a recycling fee of 1.74 euros per tyre. Once the tyres have reached the end of their life, consumers can return them free of charge to any collection point, since the recycling fee has already been paid. The operator for Finnish Tyre Recycling Ltd is Kuusakoski Oy, which collects tyres from sales points, shreds them and sells the shredded rubber onwards. This system has worked effectively for 25 years already.
“The effectiveness of this recycling system is demonstrated by the fact no one really talks or is aware of it. It just operates in the background, and abandoned tyres cannot be seen anywhere. Tyre recycling is an unnoticed part of the chain and easy for tyre producers, sellers and end customers alike,” says Thomas Söderström, Material Manager at Kuusakoski Oy.
In Finland, recycled tyres are primarily reused in civil engineering. For example, shredded tyres are used for highway sound barriers and surface structures at landfill sites. Shredded tyres weigh just 500 kilos per cubic meter, so they provide a lot of volume per ton. Shredded tyres can also be used to prevent frost and allow water to flow through. Builders are very familiar with the material, and it is in high demand as a result.
In addition, tyres from heavy vehicles in particular are often sent for retreading. Unshredded tyres are also used as blasting mats. Approximately 5 to 10 percent of recycled tyres is used for fuel by the cement industry, which can also reuse the metal strands found in the shredded tyres. A small percentage of processed tyres is used for artificial turf sports fields, for example.
Tyres from all types of motor vehicles
Producer responsibility in Finland covers tyres from all types of motor vehicles, from mopeds to heavy mining machines, as well as trailer tyres. Rubber tracks from excavators are not covered by producer responsibility, but ways of reusing them are currently being looked into.
“Consumers can return end-of-life tyres to any one of around 3000 collection points throughout Finland, most of which are located at sales points. Each year we make over 15,000 collections from these collection points, delivering them to between 5 and 10 regional terminals. Generally, around 1000 tons of tyres are collected at each terminal before a shredder is brought to the site to begin shredding them. We also transport shredded tyres to civil engineering sites,” Söderström explains.
In the Nordic countries, passenger cars use standard tyres in summertime and studded or friction tyres in wintertime. In other words, passenger cars in Finland use two sets of tyres that are replaced on average once every six years.
The amount of tyres that are recycled annually has grown steadily, and recycling operations have been made ever more efficient. As a result, the cost of recycling tyres has actually decreased for several years in a row.
TANA shredders process even rubber blasting mats
Kuusakoski Oy uses a pair of TANA shredders along with two other shredding machines by another manufacturer. These machines have somewhat different roles, as the TANA shredders can remove the metal strands found in shredded tyres and that can be separated using magnets.
“The advantage of TANA shredders is their versatility. You can adjust the pressures, rotation speeds and other settings, making them suitable for different materials. They can also cope if there is a bolt or other iron object in the mix. Blasting mats, for example, used to be a problem, but now they can just be fed into the shredder and the TANA will shred them easily at low speed,” says foreman Pentti Säävälä.
According to Säävälä, TANA shredders can produce 5 to 7 tons of 100 mm shredded tyres an hour. With 10 hours of effective working time during a 12-hour shift, between 50 and 70 tons of shredded tyres can be produced. By working in two shifts, this adds up to 100 to 140 tons a day.
“The conditions play a big role, of course. Water and snow help lubricate the tyres, making it faster to shred them. TANA shredders are good because the blades can be changed easily and quickly onsite without having to transport the entire machine into the workshop to replace the rotor. Tana’s maintenance and spare parts services are also very reliable,” Säävälä adds.