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The Importance of End-of-Life Tire (ELT) Recycling

Updated: Feb 12, 2023

The world generates billions of tires each year, and with tires being made to last for a long time, the number of end-of-life tires (ELT) is also growing. It is estimated that nearly 29 million metric tons of used tires are generated annually in 13 countries and the European region. However, it is not just the growing number of used tires that is a problem; they also pose environmental and health hazards if not disposed of properly.


To address these concerns, ELT recycling has emerged as an important solution. ELT recycling can be divided into three categories: material recovery, energy recovery, and civil engineering and backfilling. The most common recovery methods are material recovery, which involves converting ELT into rubber granules for use in various applications, and energy recovery, which involves burning ELT as a fuel source.


The ELT recycling market is driven by government regulations aimed at addressing environmental issues related to illegal dumping or importation of ELT and addressing public health and sanitary issues. In Europe, material recovery is prioritized over energy recovery, while in the USA, energy recovery is more common. Asia is the hub of ELT recycling, particularly reclaim rubber technologies. In India, ELT are also seen as valuable materials and are used in artisanal products, fishing boats, and roofs.


However, the rate of growth and viability of different recovery markets are directly linked to the demand for recovery products. For example, the demand for tire-derived fuel (TDF) may be weaker when traditional fuels are relatively cheap. The production of rubber granulate also requires high costs, such as initial capital expenditure, and the development of secondary and end-use industries to absorb the ELT product.


In conclusion, ELT recycling is an important solution for addressing the growing number of end-of-life tires and the environmental and health hazards they pose. The ELT recycling market is driven by government regulations, and the growth and viability of different recovery markets are linked to the demand for recovery products. As the world continues to generate more tires, it is crucial to promote and support ELT recycling to ensure a sustainable future.

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