Tyres – Make them safe, then make them count

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October is National Tyre Safety Month – a campaign organised by Tyre Safe to actively encourage motorists to become more aware of how important tyres are to safe driving and vehicle maintenance.

Motorists are encouraged to ‘ACT’ –

A – Air Pressure – Motorists should be aware of the tyre pressures for their vehicle and appreciate that they differ from each vehicle type and can differ from front to rear tyres. Drivers are advised to check vehicle handbooks to ensure correct pressures are set. Failure to do so can result in uneven wear and tear and decreased performance.

C – Condition – Ensure that tyres are in good condition. Visual checks can ensure that the tyre wall is intact, that there is no obvious damage, no bulges and no areas where tread is not visible.

T – Tread Depth – Be aware that the minimum legal limit for tyre tread is 1.6mm. This can be checked by tyre professionals, with a tyre gauge or a 20p piece cis a great way of checking if your tread is running low and new tyres may be required.

So, it’s really important that when tyres are on our vehicles that we take good care of them. Remember they are the only thing between your vehicle and the road. But what becomes of tyres when they are past their best?

Tyres wear out. That is a fact and one that is not going to change anytime soon. This results in waste tyres of approaching 50m per annum in the UK and, whilst the UK has a number of responsible and reputable tyre recyclers that utilise the tyres to make crumb for things such as sports pitches and road surfaces, there are still an awful lot of tyres that are slipping through the recycling channels.

With the future of exporting waste tyres looking uncertain, and moves to make the UK responsible for dealing with its own waste, new and additional ways of recycling tyres are needed to support the ever increasing number of vehicles that are on the UK roads – 32.9 million as of 2019. Even the greater uptake of electric vehicles won’t decrease the need for tyres!

One pretty much unexplored avenue of dealing with end of life tyres in a circular fashion is pyrolysis – a low heat thermal process that produces useful by-products from the process meaning the process does not generate any further waste.

IRR Waste2Energy is home of the UK’s only continuous pyrolysis plant and, since the commissioning of the plant almost a year ago, the plant has enjoyed considerable success with the processing of end of life tyres. The process has resulted in the production of carbon char, gas and oil which can be utilised in further manufacturing processes and the generation of energy.

Rory Hughes, Technical Director, IRR Waste 2 Energy commented; “Now is the time that the UK needs to actively explore the most sustainable and circular ways of dealing with waste tyres and other hard to recycle waste streams. Pyrolysis is a safe and efficient way of doing this in the tyre industry and I believe that we are on the cusp of a whole new way of dealing with waste tyres in the UK.”