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Tyre recyclers call for end-of-waste criteria for rubber stream

End-of-waste (EoW) criteria for rubber recovered from end-of-life tyres (ELT) is being urged as a crucial step to boost tyre recycling across Europe.

Recyclers argue that rubber (granulate/powder) from ELT fulfils conditions in the Waste Framework Directive and is therefore an ideal candidate for an EU-wide EoW criteria as supported by the whole tyre value chain.

‘Due to the intensive collaboration of all the actors along the tyre production and recycling chain, there are no conflicts of interest that would hamper or delay the introduction of EoW for ELTs,’ say the European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers Association (ETRMA) and EuRIC, the umbrella organisation for more than 5 500 recycling companies in Europe. ‘The rubber supply chain is ready for the next step in the advancement and uptake of the recycling of ELT-derived rubber.’

In a joint call to the European Commission, the organisations argue that shared legal criteria across all member states for ELT rubber to cease to be waste are essential. ‘This will add trust to the market, increase investors’ security and boost the research and development on innovative solutions of this valuable rubber.’

ETRMA and EuRIC note that the current rate for treating ELT across Europe is 95%. Of the three million tonnes reaching this stage, 1.6 million tonnes are recycled into raw materials of rubber, steel and textile fibres. Even so, more than one million tonnes are used for co-incineration in the cement industry and they say there is room for improvement under the waste hierarchy. ‘The demand for rubber in the EU will only rise in the future and the only way to meet that demand is by the increase and uptake of recycled materials.’

They go on: ‘The industry is still in need of a maturity step. This can only be achieved by adding value to the system in terms of an EU-wide EoW status. Starting with and producing waste is not the way to achieve progress in the business case that is ELT.’

Another key point is that such a status ensures the recycled material is accountable for safety and quality criteria. Many regulations, such as the Declarations of Performance for construction products or the REACH restriction of chemical substances, apply only once the material has ceased to be waste. ’This is of tremendous importance to increase the uptake of ELT derived rubber in the manufacture of new rubber goods and new tyres.’

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