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.
Two people described as a 59-year old man and a 48-year old woman from Harrogate have been arrested in connection with the Bradford tyre fire. The Bradford Telegraph & Argus reports they were detained on suspicion of conspiracy to commit arson, and that both have been released on bail following police interviews. Detective Superintendent Sarah Jones of Bradford District Police told the paper that the investigation is “in its early stages,” but assured the local community, which continues to be disrupted by the fire, that “any criminal acts will be appropriately dealt with.” She appealed for those with information about the fire to assist the police with their enquiries. If any of our readers have any information, they can contact Bradford District CID on 101 quoting crime reference 13200575916, or pass information to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
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.”
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.
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.
The Tyre Recovery Association has urged tyre retailers, vehicle dismantlers, and others who need to dispose of waste tyres to beware unrealistically low rates. Reprocessing costs are soaring, as Tyrepress previously reported, and measures by Asian authorities, especially in India, are countering the trade imbalance that has artificially lowered the cost of exporting waste tyres to the continent. Tyre Recovery Association secretary general Peter Taylor explains that rates hit historic lows over the past year or two due to often questionable treatment processes in the region.
An Ayrshire tyre recycling company was fined £27,000 on 18 April 2018 at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court for waste offences at a site in Irvine. A manager was also ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work under a Community Payback Order and to pay a Confiscation Order of £44,711. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is reminding all companies of the importance of working within the regulations following this sentence.
Measures announced in the Autumn Budget this week to increase the liability of illegal waste site operators have been welcomed by the Tyre Recovery Association (TRA). As of 1 April 2018, sites operating without the relevant environmental disposal permit, and those knowingly facilitating illegal waste disposal, will be liable to pay Landfill Tax and face fines amounting to an additional 100 per cent of the tax’s value. Operators of illegal sites will remain liable to criminal prosecution.
New Zealand is a country of 4.6 million people, and every year this country of 4.6 million generates around five million waste tyres. At present, no national regulations are in place to manage the outdoor storage of tyres, and the need for public authorities to deal with abandoned stockpiles of tyres is a reoccurring problem. The New Zealand government intends to get serious about waste tyres and has released a consultation document outlining a proposed National Environmental Standard.
Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory are aiming are advocating tyre pyrolysis as a way of recovering carbon black for use as a graphite substitute in lithium-ion batteries. The goal is to scale up the recovery process and demonstrate applications as anodes for lithium-ion batteries in large-format “pouch cells”. These batteries could then be used in plug-in electric vehicles and to store energy produced by wind and solar sources.