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Opportunities are identified for tyre-derived steel and fibre by WRAP

Over 100,000 tonnes of steel and 17,000 tonnes of fibre could be recovered from scrap tyres generated in the UK each year, according to research commissioned by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP). Currently, only a third of these quantities are recoverable due to the way scrap tyres are managed by UK tyre reprocessors. The research identified current and potential markets for tyre-derived steel and fibre as well as investigating the possible benefits, challenges and barriers in the use of these materials in end-applications. Steel and fibre separation in the UK is currently limited to processes that produce relatively high value granulate or powdered rubber, where the quality specification for these rubber materials dictates that contamination is eliminated. At present there is only one steel reprocessing company in the UK utilising tyre-derived steel mainly due to concerns regarding the quality of the tyre steel currently produced. WRAP project manager for tyres Steve Waite said: With many thousands of tonnes of steel currently available for recovery in the UK, the opportunities in this market are considerable. We are keen to highlight to industry, the barriers and potential opportunities to develop processes and guidance that will allow tyre reprocessors to ensure that they are producing the highest possible quality tyre-derived steel. In common with other recycling markets, the research showed that the main barrier to the use of tyre-derived steel and fibre is its image as a waste rather than a raw material. However, according to WRAP perceptions are changing, as it has been demonstrated that materials with recycled content are equal or superior to their primary equivalent. Waite said: The report has revealed a great opportunity for tyre reprocessors to separate steel and fibre from tyres and promote the use of these materials in other applications. This will help divert a high tonnage of material from landfill each year, as well as presenting specifiers with another quality recycled material for consideration in a range of new of developing end uses. With extensive research and development into the end use applications for these materials, and clients increasingly setting requirements for the use of materials with recycled content, the markets for tyre-derived steel and fibre have potential to develop further.

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