In Europe in 2011, 3.2 million tonnes of used tyres had to be disposed of.
Recycling techniques are evolving in order to recover all the materials used to make the tyre, that includes not just the rubber but also fibres and metal
Greentech Innovations in Italy claims to have come up with an eco-friendly technique of recycling which is able to re-use many of the tyre’s components.
The process involves spraying high pressure water jets onto the old rubber to break it down into small pieces.
Greentech engineer Roberto Verri explained: “We do the reverse of what’s done during the production: when making a tyre, a skeleton is built and then rubber is put around it. What we do is nothing more than taking out the rubber from the skeleton, strip the tyre, and the clean metal is sent to the foundry.”
The metal, once separated from the rubber, is used for the production of new metal items. So almost the whole tyre is reused.
Roberto Verri from Greentech adds: “We can consider this technology entirely ecological because it works exclusively with high pressure water. There is no air pollution or ground or underground dumping.”
The rubber granules produced can be used for new products such as flooring for sport venues, bins, roofs, road paving, cycle tracks. They can even be added to a mix for the production of new tyres.