News that businesses could see costs climb as new laws on tyre disposal come into force, will come as a blow to many fleet operators.
The average cost of disposal is £1 per tyre, but this is expected to rise to at least £1.20 as more tyre collectors move away from the landfill option.
Under the European Landfill Directive, which is effective from July, whole and shredded tyres can no longer be sent to landfill for disposal.
The new regulation means all tyres must be reprocessed or recycled – a more expensive process which could see additional costs passed to fleets.
Nigel Davies, UK fleet sales director at Kwik-Fit Fleet, which disposes of five million tyres annually, said: ‘Between now and the end of the year we forecast that the cost of collecting old tyre casings will increase by at least 15%.
‘It is a charge that our customers accept as most companies are becoming increasingly conscious of environmental issues and understandably expect their supplier partners to also have a ‘green’ agenda.
‘Therefore, there is an understanding that used tyres must be disposed of responsibly and we feel that our minimal charge is not an issue.
‘As with all our charges, we will aim to keep any price increase as a result of the market forces to an absolute minimum.’
The impact of banning ‘tyre shred’ from landfill sites was a discussion topic during the second Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) Tyres Stakeholder Forum.
According to stakeholders at WRAP, the ban will result in an increase in costs.
A spokesman at WRAP said: ‘The cost of recovery will rise and increased costs will have to be absorbed by the sector or passed on.
‘Viable alternative recovery routes for the tyres will be required – existing recycling outlets are likely to be full and able to charge higher fees. Collectors are unlikely to recover costs quickly thereby undermining their viability.’
Stakeholders also felt that regulatory and representative bodies may have to take a greater role. WRAP says local authorities could lead the way on the use of retread tyres for their vehicle fleets as part of their sustainable procurement policies.
The UK generated 475,232 tonnes of waste tyres during 2004. Just 12% of used tyres went to landfill but this still represented 58,797 tonnes of material.
Some groups, including the Tyre Recovery Association, believe fleets will not see a cost rises. Peter Taylor, secretary general at the Tyre Recovery Association, said: ‘The UK tyre industry has been successfully addressing issues of end-of-life tyre disposal for some years. Well over 90% of tyres are being recycled or recovered.
‘Most collectors of used tyres moved away from landfill long ago in favour of beneficial re-use, and the full introduction of the landfill ban should not prove that oppressive.
‘However, some fleet operators have been reluctant in the past to pay a price to cover the inevitable costs of beneficial recycling. If this is still the case, things will need to change.’
THERE are several ways of putting used tyres to good use, according to the Used Tyre Working Group which categorises alternatives to landfill in three sections –reuse, recycling or recovery. The group has produced a guide on landfill alternatives.
Re-treading is considered to be one of the most preferable and effective methods of re-using worn tyres since the process effectively doubles the life of a tyre, reducing the numbers of new tyres needed and minimising waste.
More motorists using re-treaded tyres would help reduce the numbers of used tyres while utilising finite natural resources such as oil.
Worn tyres are also used in their original form for non-vehicle purposes such as playground swings, silage clamps and dock fenders. These tyres are eventually returned to the waste stream for subsequent treatment.
The finer grades of crumb are incorporated into under bonnet rubbers on vehicles and a number of tyre manufacturers are examining the scope to use a percentage of the material in new tyre manufacture.
It can also be used for road surfaces although a pilot project in the UK for the use of rubberised asphalt on roads continues to be evaluated. UK tyre shredding and granulation processing capacity is growing.
Used tyres can also replace some of the fossil fuels traditionally used in cement manufacture. This reduces the overall environmental impact of cement works, helping reduce high energy bills involved in cement making.
Nigel Davies of Kwik-Fit Fleet said: ‘In three years’ time the structure of tyre disposal costs could change as technology improves the rubber derived from waste tyres, opening new product opportunities as well as existing products using the raw material in production.’