A British company tackling the tyre waste headache.

Inflation and energy costs may have pushed environmental issues off the front page, but environmental issues are still a major concern for most UK citizens. In the tyre world, sustainability contiues to be a hot topic, with companies striving to lower their environmental footprint.

So as November temperature records fall and the COP27 conference closes with only mixed results, now’s a good time to look at how tyre-related businesses are trying to become more sustainable.

One of the biggest environmental headaches surrounding tyres is what to do with them when they get to the end of their useful lifespan. And it’s a big problem. Globally, we get through a colossal 1.5 billion tyres a year.

The simplest, and worst, solution is simply to dump them. As an example, the 42-million-tyre graveyard outside Kuwait City is apparently visible from space.

Dumping tyres is an environmental nightmare. Apart from the waste of resources, tyres leach a cocktail of chemicals into the ground.

There’s also the ever-present danger of fires. Tyre dump fires are notoriously hard to extinguish – the Heyope Tyre Fire in Powys lasted for 15 years before it completely died out. They can also be massive in scale. Take a look below at the fire in part of the aforementioned Kuwaiti tyre graveyard (and enjoy the music!).

Fortunately, in the UK, tyres have been banned from going to landfill since 2006, and we recycle close to 100% of our waste tyres.

Still, recycling tyres is a notoriously tricky business. They are composed from dozens of diverse compounds that are tough to separate and recover. And although they can be made into useful products, these eventually use their usefulness too and often can’t be recycled into anything else. Current recycling is miles better than nothing, but ultimately still ends up producing plenty of waste.

A Better Solution

One British company looking for a better solution is Big Atom. Their vision is of a circular economy for tyres, where end-of-life tyres are converted back into raw materials for new tyres.

According to Tyre Trade News, that goal got a substantial boost with a £350,000 grant from Innovate UK. This will help them develop the processes to recover carbon black and other products. With a huge recycling facility in Ellesmere Port, the company already has th background and facilities to make the most of the investment.

In the same Tyre Trade News piece, Company founder Alexander Suslisty puts it like this:

There continues to be a problem with waste travelling thousands of miles on ships which we don’t have control over. This grant puts us a step closer to solving this problem through our closed loop recycling process.

We look forward to seeing how their plans develop.

Environmental news is almost always gloomy, so it’s great to see progress being made by a British company on an issue that affects all of us.

The BK Tyres blog carries news, views and information on tyres and related subjects. BK Tyres is a supplier and fully mobile fitter of tyres throughout South Oxfordshire. Contact us today.