More than 87% of used tyres are now diverted from landfill in Europe, according to new tyre industry figures, with the UK recycling more tyres than any other European country.
The figures, for the year 2006, were published by the European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers' Association (ETRMA) last week for the 27 EU Member States as well as Norway and Switzerland.It said more than 3.2 million tonnes of used tyres were generated in Europe during 2006, including 486,000 tonnes in the UK and 585,000 tonnes in Germany.
The 87% average tyre recovery rate for Europe represented a three percentage point rise compared to 2005, driven by the Landfill Directive, which banned the disposal of tyres in landfill sites from July 2006.
The European tyre recovery rate includes 32 percentage points taken up by incineration, 34% materials recycling and 12% retreading.
The ETRMA said the materials recycling rate for European tyres has now risen by 23 percentage points in the last decade, “a signal that the slowly maturing market for end of life-derived products is sustainable and economically viable.”
It said landfill would continue decreasing through the adoption of producer responsibility schemes – in which tyre manufacturers contribute towards the recycling of old tyres – by more European countries than the current 13.
The Association added that recycling would be assisted by national standards for end-of-life tyre products, such as the standards being developed in the UK by WRAP (see letsrecycle.com story).
The UK's 93% recovery rate for tyres ranked behind the likes of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden and Norway, all of whom claimed 100% diversion of tyres from landfill in 2006.
However, in terms of the tonnage of tyres being recycled, the UK surpasses all other European countries – including France and Germany. It recycled 254,000 tonnes of used tyres in 2006, compared to 189,000 tonnes recycled in Germany and 189,000 tonnes in France.
Germany was by far the leader in burning waste tyres – recovering energy from 321,000 tonnes of used tyres in 2006, compared to Britain's 74,000 tonnes, 145,000 tonnes in Italy and 107,000 tonnes in France.