Around 55 million tyres reach the end of their life per year in the UK, and a significant number of them are exported to India where they are used as fuel in brick kilns. There should be a more environmentally responsible solution to this problem, and a first step to this would be for them to undergo chemical recycling (via pyrolysis). This process produces
- tyre pyrolysis oil (TPO), which can be used as a fuel or a refinery blendstock,
- char (which can be processed into recovered Carbon Black and used in various applications including recycling back into new tyres), and
- steel (which is readily recycled).
The rubber component of used tyres comprises around 42% biogenic content and the rest is fossil fuel. Turning tyres into part-renewable, part-recycled carbon fuel is an environmentally-sound option fitting in with the circular economy.
To facilitate this, the RTFA recommends that
- TPO should have a Resources Framework – a means of reaching End of Waste status, agreed with the Environment Agency. In February 2022, the RTFA submitted a Resources Framework application for TPO to the Environment Agency.
- The Non-Biogenic part of TPO should be regarded as a recycled carbon fuel. It is far better for fossil fuel waste that cannot be recycled, to be used to make transport fuel rather than burned to make electricity. This is because it displaces diesel fuel (93% fossil fuel) rather than grid electricity (already significantly decarbonised by renewables and nuclear).
The RTFA would also like to see its members work together on routes for facilitating EoW status for rCB.
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