We often think about products in terms of their first use. The tyres on our car provide us with mobility. But what happens once they get changed at the garage and picked up by the recycler? The answer is, more value is created.
According to the English Environment Agency, the UK generated over 550,000 tonnes of waste tyres in 2019. That’s over 60 million tyres. Although there are different sizes and manufacturers for tyres, the materials used are similar. Typically, natural rubber, steel, textile, and chemicals compose a tyre. Various mixes are considered to extend the lifetime of the tyre, yet it will inevitably reach its end-of-life stage. As materials begin to wear, the tyre can no longer be safely used.
Before the 2006 EU Landfill directive, most worn-out tyres were landfilled. The process is deemed highly toxic and economically inefficient. Fortunately, a shift in policy to ban landfill waste pushed the growth of tyre recycling and retreading. Tyre recycling can is achieved through mechanical or chemical means, while the latter is recognised as a game changer in the recycling space.
Mechanical processing involves dissembling the tyre back into its fundamental materials through separation. Products of the process include steel tyre wire, rubber granules, and fabric. The rubber materials are reused for applications including equestrian surfacing, field infilling and road manufacturing. Tyre wire is utilised in steel production applications in the manufacturing industry.
Pyrolysis, a well-known process in the chemical industry, transforms rubber in the absence of oxygen. The feedstock is broken down into raw substances including char, oil, and syngas. As a result, we end up with valuable products from a simple tyre . Effectively, products from the mechanical process can be chemically recycled to close the loop and minimise waste.
BIG ATOM currently sell 20mm equestrian rubber, 6mm rubber granules, 2mm rubber granules and tyre wire.
We are working towards building a Circular Economy for tyres to ensure no value is wasted. We combine mechanical processing and pyrolysis technology to optimise the tyre’s end of life journey. BIG ATOM provide the right products to customers to be utilised in their respective industries.
Back to the original question, what is the value of a used tyre? It depends on what you decide to make of it. We maximise the value of the tyre by separating it into raw materials to give it a second life when it reaches the end of the road.