Victorian Tyre Market

Market summary – end-of-life tyres

In 2013–14 Sustainability Victoria commissioned market analysis into four waste materials identified as priorities for market development and four which are emerging materials of interest. This fact sheet summarises the findings for end-of-life (EOL) tyres.

Terminology

There are three main types of tyres used for vehicles in Australia.

  • Passenger tyres: including those used on passenger vehicles, motorcycles
  • and caravans, as well as trailers for domestic use.
  • Truck tyres: including those used on buses, light and heavy commercial vehicles, prime movers, trailers and semi-trailers, and fire fighting vehicles.
  • Off-road tyres: including those used on machinery or equipment used in areas such as agricultural, mining, construction and demolition.

Data on tyres is expressed in equivalent passenger units (EPUs), a standardised measure for the quantity of tyres which is used widely within the industry. The EPU weight for an EOL tyre has been assumed to be 8.0 kg, in accordance with the methodology adopted in previous studies.

Composition

The composition and the type of tyre may vary slightly depending on the manufacturer, however, they are generally one-half rubber, one-fifth carbon black and one fifth steel, with minor proportions of textiles and other additives. Due to the high proportion of rubber and carbon black content, they have a high calorific content of between 32 and 34 MJ/kg (with one tonne of tyres being equivalent to 0.7 tonnes of petroleum in terms of energy value1).

1 “The recycling of end-of-life tyres technical review”, last modified May 2011, http://revistademetalurgia.revistas.csic.es/index. php/revistademetalurgia/article/download/1197/1208.

Volumes

At present, the size of the EOL tyre market in Victoria is approximately 88,000 tonnes per annum2, some 46 per cent of which is recovered for export or local crumb rubber granule processing3. The destination of the remaining 54 per cent is unknown at this stage, but is assumed to be stockpiled, illegally dumped or exported without registration with customs.

Processing

A traditional tyre reprocessing approach generally involves the following steps.

  1. Whole tyres are sorted, and then shredded.
  2. The rubber is subjected to further grinding and separation through sieves to separate the rubber into various sizes.
  3. Steel is removed, generally by passing the shredded tyres over magnetised tables.
  4. Rubber is passed over an air gravity table to remove any remaining synthetic substances.

EOL tyres can also be reprocessed into a form suitable for use as refuse-derived fuel. In this instance the product is referred to as tyre-derived fuel (TDF).

The process of shredding and grinding produces granules and crumb rubber/ powder in a varying range of sizes. These are collectively referred to as tyre-derived products (TDPs).

 

Market overview

Table 2: Summary of EOL tyre generation and destinations within Victoria

Victorian generation and destination of EOL tyres                  Total tonnes (2012–13) Proportion of recovery
EOL tyres generated 88,109
Tyres recovered Reported exports ~23,119 26%
Crumb rubber                         ~15,523                          18%
Rubber granules                          ~1,725                            2%
Total                            40,367                            46%
Unknown 47,742 54%