What do we see?
The collection rate of old tyres has been close to 100% for several years. The lowest collection rate (88%) was reported in 2011 and the highest (101%) in 2020. From 2013 to 2015, the reuse rate increased, but then decreased again to 4% in 2020. This decrease seems to coincide with a rise in recycling. Currently, the majority of the collected tyres are recycled into rubber granulate, with the proportion ranging between 70% and 92%, of which the latter was reached in 2020. Reprofiling was a growing category between 2010 and 2012, reaching values of around 15% of the collected tyres, but then fell back to a value of around 4% by 2020. More positively, incineration has steadily decreased over the years, bringing it to its current value of only about 3%.
What’s the aim?
Waste management is a crucial element in a circular economy. In order to maintain the value of materials as long as possible, we must aim for maximum value extraction out of end-of-life products. The goal is to keep materials in the cycle for as long as possible, while prioritising the ‘higher’ CE strategies – reuse and reprofiling.
The different strategies are:
- Reuse: this is the most rewarding option, both economically and in terms of material use. The potential of this strategy depends on the quality of the tyres.
- Reprofiling: this strategy is only applied to truck tyres and refers to the maintenance of tyres for further use.
- Recycling: in this strategy the tyres are processed into granulate for use in applications like small wheels, tiles and carpets. A very small amount is also used for reducing agents in steel manufacturing.
- Energetic valorisation: here the tyres are used in the cement industry or (a very small portion) in pyrolysis installations for energy production.
At the moment, recycling mainly implies downcycling materials. To understand the value of these solutions for a circular economy, we should therefore analyse what has been replaced and what the broader impact of those replacements is.
What does this indicator measure?
The data includes the number of tyres collected in Belgium and the different percentages sent to the different downstream treatment processes. The number of tyres includes all types of tyres: from cars, trucks, and agricultural and industrial machines. The data was provided by Recytyre via OVAM. Recytyre is the EPR organisation that manages the collection and processing of used tyres and provides data on the performance of these operations. The collection rates are only available for Belgium as a whole but we expect the situation in Flanders to be rather similar.