A tire reaches the end-of-life stage when it can no longer be utilized on vehicles after being regrooved or re-treaded. All tires, including passenger cars, trucks, airplanes, two-wheel, and off-road tires, eventually become end-of-life tires (ELTs). As per Inkwood Research, the global end-of-life tire (ELT) management market is set to progress with a CAGR of 4.87% between 2023 to 2032. Moreover, the market is expected to capture a revenue share of $14795.57 million by 2032.
Environmental Impact of ELTs – An Alarming Global Concern
Despite the recovery rate of scrap tires estimated at 90% in Europe and the United States, nearly 4 billion end-of-life tires (ELTs) are currently in landfills as well as stockpiles globally. Besides, this amount is set to increase up to 5 billion by the year 2030. However, the significant waste flow of end-of-life tires can be detrimental to the environment as well as human health since it leads to severe water, air, and soil pollution problems. Furthermore, as per the National Institutes of Health, this waste flow is non-biodegradable and is categorized under non-hazardous waste.
Since tires do not decompose, they release chemicals into the air, ground, and water and subsequently alter the ecosystem. Moreover, when tires pile up in junkyards, methane gas is released into the air, ultimately increasing the carbon footprint and contributing to climate change.
Significant research and development initiatives have been undertaken in the field of ELT management by tire companies, ELT management enterprises, scientific laboratories, government regulators, and industrial partners to counter the ecological impact of end-of-life tires. In addition to finding effective and environmentally sound uses for ELTs, they help establish new recovery routes, comply with reporting obligations, and promote the introduction of efficient product standards.
A New Lease of Life: Major End-of-Life Tire (ELT) Treatment Technologies
End-of-life tires (ELTs) facilitate sustainable development objectives by reducing natural resource depletion and environmental costs associated with reserve exploitation. Aligning with this, ELT treatment technologies and services are rapidly witnessing robust growth while gaining crucial market shares globally.
And on that note, here are the top end-of-life tire (ELT) treatment technologies along with their market projections –
- Rubber Remediation – The market for ELT management by treatment technologies such as rubber remediation has rapidly evolved over the last decade. This is mainly ascribed to stringent regulations for environmental protection and the efforts established by companies to grant incentives to end markets for the usage of scrap tire-derived products.
- Market Position: According to Inkwood Research, the rubber remediation segment, under the treatment technology category, is set to capture the highest market share of 03% by 2032.
Moreover, government regulations are being enacted for the redressal of environmental concerns linked to illicitly disposed of or stockpiled tires. Besides, they are regarded as a common tire disposal method in several emerging and developed countries.
For example, in India, the Union environment ministry’s new draft notification (2021) proposed to regulate the disposal of waste tires in India by enforcing the extended producer responsibility (EPR). As per the notification, manufacturers and importers of tires, including waste tires, must ensure that their products are recycled in line with the Indian government’s standards.
- Scrap Tire Treatment – Scrap tires, owing to their size, shape, and associated environmental hazards, present both difficult and expensive challenges for entities responsible for overseeing their management.
In this regard, some of the major problems associated with scrap tires include fire hazards when improperly stockpiled, emission of dangerous oils as well as soot into air and water bodies when illegally burnt, and breeding grounds for snakes, ticks, rats, and various other vectors. These factors, in turn, play an essential role in facilitating the need for scrap tire treatment and recycling.
- Market Position: Scrap tire treatment is expected to be the fastest-growing treatment technology, growing with a CAGR of 5.26% by 2032, as per Inkwood Research’s analysis.
Inkwood Research has further classified the treatment technology category into the following sub-segments:
While major investment projects for scrap tire treatment and rubber recycling technologies operate under private ownership, most are classified under the mechanical, thermal, and cryogenic technology treatment categories:
- Mechanical Technology – Mechanical treatment technologies constitute a crucial sector of the scrap tire management sector. This treatment technology is expected to witness notable growth in the overall scrap tire economy, given the increasing volume of scrap tires produced globally, as well as stringent environmental legislation adopted by nations to avoid their direct disposal in landfills.
Furthermore, scrap tire mechanical treatment processes, as well as services, are projected to generate strong opportunities for several developing countries mainly due to the low cost of operation and the simplicity of processes. Accordingly, Inkwood Research estimates that the mechanical technology segment under the scrap tire treatment category is set to grow with the highest CAGR of 5.42% during the forecast period of 2023 to 2032.
- Thermal Technology – Thermal technologies are characterized as a group of commonly used processes for scrap tire processing. They are aimed at decomposing scrap tires either in the absence or the lack of oxygen. As per Inkwood Research, the thermal technology segment, under the scrap tire treatment segment, is expected to progress with a CAGR of 4.88% during the forecast period.
The pyrolysis process, in this regard, is one of the most commonly-used thermal destruction technologies by ELT management companies for scrap tire management. For instance, Scandinavian Enviro Systems AB (Sweden), through its patented pyrolysis technology, recovers steel, carbon black, oil, and gas from waste tires.
- Cryogenic Technology – Compared to mechanical and thermal processing, the cryogenic method is more precise as well as predictable and also produces the finest product. Several leading players are also leveraging this technology for the efficient treatment of ELTs. For example, Lehigh Technologies Inc (United States) manufactures its products using end-of-life tire materials and post-industrial rubber through the company’s proprietary cryogenic turbo mill technology.
The decrease in land availability for landfills, the need to reduce worker exposure and potential liability, and increased awareness of environmental safety have scaled scrap tire management technologies to new heights. And taking energy production and new material applications into account, these aspects are set to play a pivotal role in augmenting the global end-of-life (ELT) management market during the forecast years.
How do waste tires impact human health?
Waste tires take up valuable space in landfills, thus creating breeding grounds for mosquitoes. This exposes communities to health risks, such as West Nile Virus, Encephalitis, and Zika Virus.
What do thermal technologies for scrap tire treatments primarily entail?
Thermal technologies for scrap tire treatments mainly include the pyrolysis process, thermochemical process, and thermal devulcanization.