Brussels - The European Tyre Recycling Association (ETRA) has signalled a new willingness to unite with other tire industry groups to prevent a ban on key applications for recycled tire rubber.
ETRA seeks united front to protect crumb rubber industry
The European Commission, has requested the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to examine the safety of crumb rubber, particularly with regard to its polyaromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) content.
The Brussels authority’s move follows the launch of similar investigations by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.
In its latest statement, ETRA said it is looking into the rubber infill issue alongside the European Rubber Chemicals Association and “other bodies”.
Tire manufacturers group the European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers’ Association (ETRMA) has led the way in presenting the industry’s case regarding the safety of tire recyclate to the European Commission.
ETRA’s leadership has long been at loggerheads with the ETRMA, but in its latest statement, Dr. Ettore Musacchi of ETRA said this is a complex situation that needs “addressing by all those involved and a wide co-operation to resolve the issues around rubber infill.”
Putting the recycling industry’s case, ETRA said that no evidence had been found to link tire rubber to cancer despite two decades of research on the subject.
The US Environmental Protection Agency lists some 41 independent projects, none of which find any harmful effects of using tire rubber in sports infill.
The Synthetic Turf Association lists another 10 such reports. The 2007 ETRA ‘Artificial Turf Compendium’ cites over 50 studies on the issue, added ETRA.
These findings are further supported by an investigation carried out by the City of Turin, Italy, said ETRA’s Dr Musacchi. This, he reported, showed no significant difference between the levels of potential contaminants from sports fields and those sampled in the busy urban area.
According to ETRA, around 39 percent of recycled tire rubber is used in sports surfaces, as bonded, moulded, or loose material as well as infill.
Any restriction on the use of recyclate in these application would be “incredibly damaging to the tire recycling sector and would create a crisis in waste tire management,” it said.
Moreover, ETRA added, Europe already has an oversupply of tire derived stock and relies on exporting its waste to India and other markets in order to prevent stockpiling in Europe.