The disharmony spilled over into the panel discussion, where ETRA secretary general Valerie Shulman vigorously reprimanded Jean-Pierre Taverne, director end-of-life tires at ETRMA, about his group’s non-attendance of the recyclers' annual conferences.
Urging calm and unity, Taylor said: "We need to be focused... bringing together, perhaps, a group of people and saying 'this is our sector, this is what we need to develop, and this is what we have to do to ensure its viability.'”
Taylor went on to say that the need for sustainability was going to take the tire industry in many different directions and that it was important to avoid over-dependence on particular recyclate outlets, such as exports, cement kilns or sports pitches.
ETRA’s Shulman noted that, as well as the tire manufacturers and recyclers, it was important to consider the end-users of products made with recycled material.
“All three should get together,” said Shulman. “We have been doing this in our conference with the recyclers and the material users for a number of years. It is time, as we move ahead, for all of us to be on the same page.”
But the need for unity was most clearly illustrated by the plight of the truck tire retreading industry, which is currently being undermined by an influx of low-cost tire imports into Europe – see also report on Bipaver warning.
The European industry, said Taylor, must try to “make life easier for retreaders, certainly within the context of the circular economy. If we don't, we won't have a truck tyre recycling industry.”
For the ETRMA, Taverne said the tire makers’ association was seeking support for the tire retreading industry at European Commission level: “It is part of the circular economy, because you are extending the use life of the tire.
“We want also to have cases that are suitable for retreading to be considered, in an EU harmonised way, as products and not as waste.”