There are almost 55m waste tyres generated by the UK each year and the ways in which they are dealt with are wildly different.
Those in the industry still believe that a blanket ban will come but both now and, for the future, surely, we should be finding ways of recovering and recycling waste tyres in a responsible and sustainable way.
The team in our Renewables division operate the UK’s first continuous pyrolysis plant for end-of-life tyres and we believe that pyrolysis represents the future of tyre recycling across the globe.
But what is it, and why is it so successful in tyre recovery?
What is pyrolysis?
Pyrolysis is not a new concept and is ideally suited to tackling many hard-to-recycle waste streams.
The process of pyrolysis - a low temperature thermal process which takes place without oxygen - makes it quite different to a combustion process and is therefore much more circular and sustainable. It can be applied to any organic (carbon-based) material and the process always produces a solid, a liquid, and a gas from the process which can then be used in further applications making it a circular process, in that no further waste is generated as a result.
In the case of end-of-life tyres and our plant, the by-products are carbon char and tyre pyrolysis oil (TPO). The carbon char can be refined to create recovered Carbon Black (rCB) and this is utilised as pigmentation and colouring in many manufacturing process including paint, ink and plastic. The oil can also be successful blended with other products to generate greener, cleaner, and future fuels.
The gas that is generated as part of the pyrolysis process is successfully used to power the plant with some residual energy left over for additional power generation.
Why it’s perfect for tyres
Tyre recycling and pyrolysis is a perfect match and offers a tangible and measurable way for countries across the globe to recover ELTs.
The process is circular; it solves one problem without creating another; and it is this type of waste recovery, no matter what the material being processed, that should be the recycling utopia we all aim for.
Even more attractive about our plant technology, is that it can be deployed anywhere in the globe and adapted to be fully compliant with local regulation. These smaller-scale plants can be sited in small warehouse units, reducing the ‘tyre miles’ generated when driving waste tyres miles and miles to a recovery plant.
Because the constituent parts of tyres go through the pyrolysis process effectively, resulting in
raw components that serve a purpose in manufacturing and future fuels, it makes them the perfect material to be processed in this way and to make a real difference across a variety of industry sectors.
It’s certainly an interesting and pivotal time for the sector, and we’re excited to continue playing our part in the deployment of our plant technology, which takes the recovery and recycling solution to the heart of the problem and which truly supports a circular economy.