Brussels –European policy makers should introduce measures targeting minimum levels of recyclate in tire and rubber products, according to the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR).
The European Parliament should “step in, just as it did for plastics,” urged tire & rubber committee chairman Max Craipeau – commenting in the Brussels-based BIR’s annual report.
“Ten years ago, professional bottlers would have said it was not only impossible but also dangerous to incorporate recycled PET in beverage bottles,” he said in the report issued 8 June.
“Now, with the help of the legislator, major water and soda bottlers incorporate 25%, 50% and, in some cases, 100% rPET in their manufacturing processes,” said Craipeau, who is also founder of Greencore Resources.
There is, he added, a need to “change mindsets” and “force” rubber-based industries to incorporate a minimum recycled content in their production – as long as product properties were not greatly affected.
“Europe’s market for recycled rubber will never improve unless regulators make a decisive move and impose minimum recycled contents for new products,” insisted Craipeau.
According to Craipeau, over the past decade, breakthroughs have been made – especially in China – with non-polluting processes that have doubled the mechanical properties of the regenerated compounds.
"We are getting closer and closer to real devulcanisation and, with current technologies, it is possible to incorporate around 10% regenerated rubber in a new tire without really affecting its properties," he noted.
The proportion, he added, can be as high as 70% for technical parts in a closed-loop system.
Noting that Europe had "one of the best feedstocks in the world" for making regenerated rubber, Craipeau said he believed that mandatory recycled contents of 5-10% for tires and 10- 20% for technical rubber parts “are definitely workable.”