Original Location

North American Recycled Rubber Association

1621 McEwen Drive, Unit 24
Whitby Ontario
Canada L1N 9A5

Tel: (905) 433-7669
Fax: (905) 433-0905

Diane Sarracini



Ms. Anne Catherine Forteza of IDE Environment was one of the guest speakers at the N.A.R.R.A. convention in Montreal. IDE Environment specializes in Environmental studies and has been working on tire waste since 1990. Very few studies have been carried out in France on this type of waste and the problem caused by used tires was almost ignored. The regional government of Midi-Pyrenees asked IDE to make an evaluation of the used tires produced and of the so called black points in the region. A closer look was done of the different recycling solutions including value added products such as the Animat Caoutech Process. IDE is the consultant of the National Community of Car Professions and have implemented 2 major programs. A pilot program on car wastes in the Mid-Pyrenees Region that is now being extended to the rest of France and secondly a pilot program on used tires. Following is her report.

This report will first of all deal with a presentation of the used tire situation in Europe. I will take the example of some countries to show how important the problem is. The second part will focus on the French case concluding with the Mid-Pyrenean project.

Although a working group has been dealing with this theme, there is no specific European Law set up. Nevertheless, some objectives have been defined by this working group.

  • the reduction of landfill
  • the development of recycling
  • the development of retreading
The quantity of used tires in Europe, which was almost 2 million tons in 1990, is expected to reach 21/2 million by the end of the century. A solution has to be found before then to replace landfill. Retreading needs to be intensified and recycling (both incineration with energy recovery and matter recycling) will be the only solution for non retreadable used tires.

Every year in Europe, Germany produces 550,000 tons, France 350,000, Great Britain, 290,000 and Italy 150,000 tons. In order to illustrate the lack of recycling solutions which currently characterize Europe, lets have a closer look at the British case.

In Britain, 36% of the non retreadable used tires are sent to landfill (105,000 tons), 29% are left on vehicles in scrapyards, 8% are exported, 21% are sent to incineration (not all for energy recovery) and 4% are incinerated in cement kilns.

Europe produces annually an enormous quantity of used tires, most of which are being sent to landfill. But landfill is not a long term solution because of their saturation and of environmental laws. Moreover, the costs of used tire treatment is reaching a high level almost everywhere. If nothing was done, the number of uncontrolled and illegal landfills/stockpiles would grow as would the accompanying pollution risks.

In order to solve this problem, two ways of recycling can be considered.

  • incineration with energy recovery
  • shredding in order to recover rubber and steel.
Although some local programs for recycling have been started around Europe, thanks to both public and private funds, very few are generalized at a country or even a regional level.

It is quite clear that the problem caused by used tires is linked to the difficulty to identify who has the responsibility for the waste and who should pay for disposal. Manufacturers, distributors, or consumers? One thing is sure, solutions have to be found. Not only should this huge environmental problem be solved but the solutions needs to be economical.

Like other European countries, there is no specific law concerning used tires in France. However, the French environmental law states that the holder of the waste is responsible for its good disposal. In the case of tire waste there are two groups of holders. The first is composed of the companies that replace used tires for new ones; tire specialists, garages, and even supermarkets, and the second group is companies dealing with wreck cars. French law also specifies that as of the year 2002, only final wastes will be accepted in controlled landfill which induces that alternative solutions be found before this deadline. In France, both matter recycling and energy recovery are acceptable as long as the industrial process is in conformity with the French Environmental law.

About 350,000 tons of used tires are produced every year in France. Of these 77% are treated, which means mainly dumped in landfill or incinerated in cement kilns, 13% are retreaded and 10% are actually recycled. The treatment costs are reaching very high levels and it is quite difficult to send a stack of used tires to treatment/landfill for less than US$220.00 per ton. Moreover, the situation contrasts from one region to another. Very few regions have adapted cement kilns for example and if there is one, none of the French cement plants can treat a sufficient quantity of tires to be the only solution. Finally, the other existing recycling systems do not always conform the French legislation.

My above report on the French situation is not very positive, however, a pilot program has been carried out in the region of Midi-Pyrenees. The National Council of Car Professions (CNPA) launched in September, 1994, called for a proposal. The originality of this program stems from the fact that all the organization involved in the tire life cycle were represented. Tire dealers, garages, retreaders, etc. The purpose was to set up a complete organization in order to deal with used tires, from collection to recycling including sorting and transportation.

The Alpha-Recyclage project was chosen at the end of severe evaluation, which took into account not only the environmental conformity but also a whole range of economical points.

Let me describe the Alpha Recyclage project. First of all the project is based on an on-field experience. It takes into account the entire life-cycle of the tire as a waste. The problem when it comes to dealing with a waste such as used tires, is that first of all it needs to be collected and the used tires are spread all around. Because of the different levels of use, they need to be sorted for retreads. I do not know how it works here, but in France the main difficulty with used tires is that when a tire holder has a stack of old tires on his facilities he calls a retreader. The retreader comes to sort on-site and takes away the retreadable tires. Sometimes he pays for these tires, sometimes not, especially when he take the whole stack of tires. In every case, non retreadable used tires are left and dumped. The Alpha Recyclage project is based on the collection of used tires, including the retreadable one. This point is very important because it mainly explains why the complete organization set up proposes the lowest costs.

Fifteen thousand tons of non retreadable used tires are generated every year in the region Mid-Pyrenees. In order to collect the complete production of waste, the Alpha Recyclage project proposes the establishment of 12 centres around which tires are collected. The used tires are then sorted and prepared to be sent to the recycling centre.

The process proposed by Alpha Recyclage is based on a cryogenic technic. This recycling method consists of refrigerating tires at a very low temperature, using liquid nitrogen and then thinly shredded. The different components, mainly rubber, steel and fibres, are then efficiently separated. The rubber granules produced by this process are of very good quality and represent a perfect input in the rubber transformation industry.

Finally, lets have a look at the disposal costs which appear to be the lowest ones compared with the other solutions.

A tire holder will pay between US$0.90 - 1.20/tire for collection from his site and US$0.70 if he delivers to the collection centre. This price includes the whole treatment but as I mentioned before, if the stack includes valuable used tires for retreading then the treatment can be done for free.

The interest in the Alpha-Recyclage project stems from the fact that used tires are not considered a waste but as a primary matter. You would say that it is always the case with recycling but it is probably the first time in France that used tire recycling is seen as economical.

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