The fourth session of the virtual Tyre Industry Conference centred on tyre recycling and the circular economy in the year of coronavirus. Joined by the Tyre Recovery Association’s secretary general Peter Taylor OBE and Mark Murfitt, the managing director of the UK’s largest tyre recycler, Murfitts Industries, our discussion focused on issues affecting collection and processing of end of life tyres in the UK, the impact of the pandemic, the damage caused by non-compliance, and future developments in tyre recycling. The UK’s tyre recycling sector witnessed a number of investments in 2020 from companies such as the newly formed Norwegian outfit Wastefront’s intention to build a pyrolysis facility in Sunderland and the UK’s Powerhouse Energy Group’s Cheshire DMG syngas plant. So noticeable was this trend that Tyrepress published its first ever Digital Feature based largely on the trend – a magazine-style online feature collecting the latest news from the segment in one place. The interest in this unglamorous but vital segment would perhaps represent a surprise to some, but several developments led to this flurry of activity.
The site of the Bradford tyre fire which broke out in the early hours of 16 November causing disruption to the local area was investigated earlier in 2020 by the Environment Agency. Local newspaper the Telegraph & Argos reported on 14 July that a local resident had reported the former Ontrak karting circuit to the EA’s Incident Hotline, and that the agency had subsequently started a probe. Go-kart circuits are permitted to use up to 40 tonnes of waste tyres as crash barriers if they obtain the relevant exemption permit. However, pictures taken by the Telegraph & Argos in July also show high stacks of baled tyres that do not resemble karting safety walls. Tyres & Accessories searched the EA’s Public Registers of Waste Exemptions and Environmental Permits but found no evidence of permits or either the S2 or T8 permits required to legally store waste tyres registered to the former circuit’s address. Meanwhile, the site’s owner, Jak Yakoob of used car dealer The Car Empire, which backs onto the tyre fire site, told the Telegraph & Argos in July that the site’s new tenant had agreed to clear the waste tyres from the site. The EA’s spokesman said its officers were investigating the Spring Mill Street site’s operators and were “seeking to determine if an offence has been committed so that appropriate enforcement action may be taken.”
The “worst fears” of the Tyre Recovery Association have been confirmed by Environment Agency data confirming a rise in levels of non-compliance by many end-of-life tyre (ELT) claiming ‘T8 exemptions’ for their businesses. EA inspections conducted in the first eight months of 2020 showed almost 50 per cent of sites visited failed to meet legal requirements. This is considerably worse than comparative data from 2019. Inspections of almost sixty sites carried out by the EA across England last year revealed over one-third to be legally non-compliant. prices typically charged by recyclers to accept end of life tyres from collectors have almost doubled since the start of the year.
This autumn could bring with it a new rash of tyre dumping and site abandonment warns Britain’s Tyre Recovery Association (TRA). The association has warned that there are several factors of which the public, our regulators and the tyre trade should be aware. The TRA’s latest comments follow a previous warning that market conditions were likely to have such consequences earlier in the year.
On 3 July 2020 the UK government issued advice on the port-side storage of tyre shred via a time-limited Environment Agency Regulatory Position Statement (RPS 238). RPS 238 was updated on 15 September 2020 and lasts until 30 June 2021.
The Tyre Recovery Association is urging the Environment Agency to be more vigilant about stockpiling waste tyres. The association is concerned that the current relaxation of stockpile permitting rules could lead to operators storing more waste tyres than they can handle. With recycling gate prices high and cashflow under enormous pressure, the temptation to accept unrealistic collection price offers is great. However, if the collector is unable to process waste tyres as a result, abandoned waste tyre stockpiles could become “an ugly and very expensive problem”, which could prove damaging to the reputation of the tyre business as a whole.
A Northamptonshire man who ran illegal waste sites has been given a 12-month suspended prison sentence. He received this sentence last Friday following action taken by the Environment Agency relating to illegal tyre storage.
Following four years of consultation, the Tyre Recovery Association (TRA) has published its tyre industry specific Fire Prevention Plan (FPP). Having worked alongside the Environment Agency (EA) to address the need to store a diverse range of materials in various grades, each with differing combustibility, burn rates and fire risk, across widely differing sites, the TRA’s FPP will meet the objectives of the Environment Agency Fire Prevention Plan Guidance Version 3. Specifically, this means: Preventing a fire; Extinguishing of a fire; and minimising the impact of a fire. The industry-specific Fire Prevention Plan was launched by Peter Buckley, senior fire advisor, Environment Agency.
There are now an estimated twelve to fifteen thousand hand car washes in the UK. The Car Wash Association states that more than ninety per cent are unregulated. “It is extraordinary that we are virtually the only EU country where illegal hand car washing has proliferated over the last ten years to the extent seen across the UK. This must result from the failure of key agencies to enforce their own regulations”, said Car Wash Association chairman, Brian Madderson, giving evidence in Parliament recently.
Nokian Tyres has been selected for Dow Jones’ DJSI World sustainability index. With a total sustainability score nearly twice as high as the industry average, Nokian Tyres significantly improved its results in the 2017 assessment. Nokian Tyres’ score of 78 points was only one point behind the industry’s best company globally.
The Tyre Recovery Association (TRA) and Wood Recyclers Association (WRA) are describing the Environment Agency’s (EA) attempt to create a single set of ‘one size fits all’ fire prevention guidelines for all sectors as ‘unviable’, a view that the association states is held by firms across the waste recovery industry. The need to store a diverse range of materials in various grades, each with differing combustibility, burn rates and fire risk, across widely differing sites, makes the adoption of a ‘catch-all’ solution impossible, they point out. Should such a policy be adopted, it would also pose a severe threat to reputable businesses, while at the same time encouraging an increase in sites exempt from regulations and which the EA admits it does not have the funds to inspect.
TRA members will lobby their constituency members of parliament in their effort to fight off Environment Agency plans to bring in new storage limits which they say could put many responsible recyclers out of business. The association believes that the proposed new norms which it is claimed will lead to a reduction in waste fires will hit the tyre industry disproportionately.
Plans by the Environment Agency (EA) to introduce new norms for the storage and processing of end of life tyres (ELTs) will force many operators out of business by the end of this year, according to the Tyre Recovery Association (TRA). And what’s more this outcome is likely to drive tyre recycling underground too.