Forever recyclable novel plastic thanks to old tyres

Apr 19, 2013 by Alexander Hellemans
Forever recyclable novel plastic thanks to old tyres

Tyres are well suited for recycling. They are easy to collect and do not require any costly sorting process. However, in Europe, still only about 50% of the tyres are recycled. The rest is incinerated or disposed of in landfills. There is still room for improvement to reach the highest international tyre recycling levels. Among the most active, "certain areas in Canada are excellent; for example [in] Alberta, they use all of their tyres for material recycling," says Valerie Shulman, Secretary General of the European Tyre Recycling Association ETRA, in Brussels, Belgium.

The most advantageous processes are those that result in a new and usable product, according to Gisele Jung, a at the Brussels Free University(ULB). For instance, the Swedish company EcoRub in Öjebin has pioneered such a process, beginning in 1995. Although there is a large variety of tyre reprocessing plants, not many use as innovative a process.

The process involves chopping up used tyres into small pieces and separating out the steel and fabric. Then, rubber bits are ground into a powder, and mixed with plastic. A patented compound strengthens the between the two materials. The material, a rubber-like , is used in trucks or as floor covering. Unlike most recycled plastic products, the material can, after use, be recycled again into a similar product.

EcoRub patented the process in Europe and in the United States (US). They also sold licences to four companies in the US that are now exploiting the system commercially,producing between 15,000 and 20,000 tons annually, reports Åke Paulsson, CEO of EcoRub.

However, in Europe, this recycling process has not been that readily adopted because there were problems with financing, says Paulsson. To help prove the of this process, the EU funded 50% of ACE, a project aimed at opening the market for the developed by EcoRub.

Paulsson says that the 3-year project, started in 2010, was quite a success in uncovering the market potentials for this technology in Europe. "We first set out to identify customers and markets, and we succeeded very well. We have roughly four times the market than was thought initially," Paulsson tells youris.com. This, he believes, could partly be because their product is cheaper than other, similar plastics produced by traditional methods.

Experts such as Juan Antonio Tejela Otero, an engineer and sales manager atRenecal, a recycling company in Guardo, in the Palencia province of Spain, agree. He tells youris.com: "I believe in this technology, I think it is the future of recycling. For these mixes you can get a very good price and they will be competitive with other products made from virgin materials."

The next step is to actually start large scale production. EcoRub will be part owner of a production plant to be built in Sweden.

Explore further: Cook farm waste into energy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Europe triples recycling but still lags target

Mar 19, 2013

Recycling of household waste has tripled in Europe over the past decade but some countries are dragging their feet for meeting a target set for 2020, the European Environment Agency (EAA) said in a report ...

Mega tyre dump blights Spanish countryside

Feb 12, 2013

On a dry hillside near Madrid, a black mass has taken over: stacks of discarded tyres, piling up for years in an environmental nightmare for the small town nearby.

Scientists de-polymerize polymers

Jun 26, 2007

Japanese scientists have created a process that breaks down certain plastics, allowing the chemicals to be reused to make new higher-quality plastic.

Recommended for you

Cook farm waste into energy

15 hours ago

It takes some cooking, but turning farm waste into biofuels is now possible and makes economic sense, according to preliminary research from the University of Guelph.

Developing a reliable wind 'super grid' for Europe

18 hours ago

EU researchers are involved in the development of a pan-European 'super grid' capable of dispersing wind power across Member States. This will bring more renewable energy into homes and businesses, help reduce ...

Boeing 737 factory to move to clean energy

Dec 16, 2014

Boeing said Tuesday it plans to buy renewable energy credits to replace fossil-fuel power at the factory in Washington state where it assembles its 737 commercial airplanes.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

tadchem
not rated yet Jun 14, 2013
Used tires are a vast untapped resource. Anaerobic retorting can recover carbon-based liquid fuels such as fuel oil or diesel. Comminuted rubber can be processed into flooring, mats, mulch, and possibly even structural materials.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.