Last year, 85 844 tons of used tires were collected in Belgium. This is according to the non-profit organization Recytyre, the Belgian organization responsible for collecting and recycling tires.
More than 99,8% of tire waste was recovered, mainly in the form of pellets. This percentage exceeds the minimum target of 85% for material recovery.
Flanders accounts for nearly half
Some 75 000 tons of new tires enter the Belgian market each year, but each year 40 Recytyre partners also recycle more than 80 000 tons of old tires through more than 38 000 collections at 5 000 collection points. In other words, last year, more old tires were collected than new ones were put on the market in Belgium.
Most of those tires came from Flanders, accounting for 53 359 tons. Wallonia accounted for 29 917 tons, and the Brussels Capital Region 2 569 tons. Most tires are collected from passenger cars (59,2%), followed by trucks (30,3%) and agricultural machinery (5,8%).
Recycled as rubber granulate
Last year, more than nine out of ten tires collected and recycled were converted into rubber granulates, the basis for flooring, artificial grass, athletics tracks, playground tiles, or noise and vibration insulation walls.
The rest of the tires were retreated (4,6%) or reused on the second-hand market (3,1%). A small portion was recycled into steel (0,7%) or used as energy in cement kilns (0,19%).
Recytyre does admit that certain sub-targets, such as achieving 10% tire reuse or 10% retreading, have not yet been achieved. “In the short term, we mainly want to encourage the transport sector, through awareness campaigns and economic incentives, to opt even more for retreading,” says Chris Lorquet, general manager of Recytyre.
Particles harmful to the environment
Recent studies show that car tires leave 500 000 tons of particulates on European roads every year due to friction between the rubber and the road surface. This pollution is not immediately harmful to humans, says consumer organization Test Aankoop (TA), but these particles end up in the soil and wash into waterways with rainwater, where they can cause considerable damage to fauna and flora.
At the same time, with the rise of the electric car, cars are getting heavier and heavier, which is also expected to increase tire wear. In other words, the pollution will not come so much from the exhaust but from the tires.
According to TA, Michelin, Vredestein, and Goodyear are among the top three tires when looking at the ratio of microplastics left behind/safety. At the bottom of the rankings are Continental, Bridgestone, and Pirelli.