Retreading: Top Of The Recycling Pile?
Retreading appears to generate a dichotomy for U.K Government’s environmental “sustainability programme”. On the one hand, retreading a tyre obviously makes better use of the original materials and extends the life of the new tyre, thus creating a lesser demand on fossil fuels and an ultimately finite supply of some raw materials.
On the other hand, like any other consumer product, a retread will still end up needing recycling at some time in its life; some call this deferred disposal, but it seems that not all the environmental lobbyists have recognised the fact that recycling only ever delays the ultimate disposal; it can rarely, if ever, offer a final solution but still plays a vital role in resource management.In the UK we already have a very high percentage of recovery and re-use of tyres, including a significant contribution from retreading. Gary Oliver, Chairman of the RMA Marketing and Communication Committee, explains further why he believes retreads are industry’s leading sustainable option.
“The retreaders’ case goes something like this. If the market uses 200,000 tonnes of new tyres per annum, then over five years there will be a demand for 1,000,000 tonnes of new tyres. If 50% of those tyres are retreaded every year, then the demand for new tyres falls to 600,000 tonnes over five years, whilst retreading accounts for the other 400,000 tonnes.
The fundamentals to sustainable development are thereby catered for; that waste is minimised from 1,000,000 tonnes to just 600,000 tonnes and scarce natural resources are conserved. The maths are simplistic, of course, but if the primary objective of best environmental practice is to minimise use of raw materials, retreading does this whilst also meeting the second best objective of re-use. It is non-sensical that in its recent Producer Responsibility paper the DTI – with the Environment Agency in support – took retreading out of the reprocessing calculations for waste tyres ignoring a real and positive contribution to sustainable practice and effective waste management.