In the European Union, thousands of worn tires are sent into retirement every year. There is a total of 3,250,000 tons of material to be disposed of. Amazing figure, isn’t it? But, what happens to them? And, what to do with the tires we don’t use any more?
In a world, where increasing attention is paid to material recycling and separate waste collection, there must be also concern for discarded tires. Once they are no longer used, they are collected, disposed of and, if possible, recycled.
Why recycle tires?
It is extremely important to correctly dispose of a tire. If tossed away like ordinary waste, it can become toxic and polluting, especially if burnt. Not only is combustion a very long process which can last several days, but it also releases rubber chemicals into the air, which are harmful for the environment and the people who breathe them in.
Correct tire disposal procedures allow for recycling its components and raw materials to be reused in several fields: construction and insulation material production, road pavements, automation industry, just to name a few.
What does the law say?
In 2012, the European Union has made the payment of an “environmental contribution” mandatory covering the cost of tire disposal procedure, in such a way that this kind of waste is not going to accumulate in the landfills throughout Europe. It is then up to the single States to choose the best method for collecting this contribution and to put into practice the disposal procedure. Three are the models the States could choose from:
- Producer Responsibility
This system provides that the purchase invoice for the tire or any other means (farming machinery, earthmoving, motor vehicles, motorcycle, etc.) shall include an item in relation to the disposal contribution, which varies according to the tire application and its weight. The contribution paid by the purchaser covers the cost necessary for end-of-life tire handling: collection from tire dealers or repairers, transport to special storage centers, recycling and recuperation operations.
Disposal operations are entrusted to an independent organization working at a national level, acknowledged by all tire manufacturers and importers operating in the Country. This allows absolute transparency towards the final user, who can clearly see on the purchase invoices the sum paid for tire disposal. Once a tire is worn, the user simply has to leave it to a tire specialist who is going to contact the organization dealing with the disposal for organizing the collection. All this without any added costs: remember that you have already paid for the disposal when purchasing the tire!
The following EU countries have adopted this system: Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Turkey
- Tax System
With this system, the State is directly responsible for recuperation and disposal of tires. Everything is financed by a tax on tire production advanced by the manufacturers and passed on through the entire supply chain up to the end user. In this way, the State is the only responsible for the chain of collection, recycling and disposal of all tires in the Country. The following States have adopted the Tax System: Denmark and Slovak Republic.
- Free Market System
The last system is a middle course between the first two options: it is neither the State dealing with worn tires nor a single appointed organization. There are several companies authorized to deal with tire disposal operating on the market as competitors in full compliance with legal requirements.
This system facilitates the cooperation between tire manufacturers and companies dealing with tire disposal leading to partnerships and agreements easing the recuperation process. This solution has been chosen by Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Ireland and Switzerland.
For further information on disposal procedures for your tires visit the website of the European Tyre Recycling Association.
How are tires disposed of in your country? Which method do you think is the most effective? Payment on purchase or disposal? Tell us your opinion!