It was a case of good news and bad news at the BIR Tyres Committee meeting in Shanghai.
First the bad news: European tyre sales in the first quarter of this year were markedly lower across all leading categories - passenger car, truck, agricultural and The motorcycle - than in the first three months of last year, thus stemming the flow coming forward for recycling. But then, the good news: latest figures suggest that the tyre recovery rate in Europe has reached an all-time high of 98% compared to 75% as recently as 2004, thus reducing landfilling to very low levels.
BIR Tyres Committee Chairman Barend Ten Bruggencate of VACO in the Netherlands also revealed a push within Europe for greater “green” procurement by public authorities and for increased co-ordination of tyre recycling research and development. Tyre companies spent some 3.5% of their annual turnover on research and development, he added.
The guest speaker at the Shanghai meeting was Pang Shuhua, Vice President and Secretary General of the China Tyre Retreading, Repairing and Recycling Association. Tyre arisings in China were around 8 million tonnes per annum and on a rising trend, not least because of domestic growth in car ownership, he pointed out.
A distinction was made within China between “used” tyres and “waste” tyres: with the former, only the surface was damaged such that the core was still suitable for retreading; with the latter, however, the damage extended to the core and retreading was ruled out on safety grounds. China did not allow imports of “waste” tyres and their prices domestically were perhaps the highest in the world, he told delegates.
The two speakers joined together in welcoming the possibility of closer co-operation between BIR and the China Tyre Retreading, Repairing and Recycling Association.