COMMERCIALIZING CONTINUOUS TYRE PYROLYSIS TECHNOLOGY IN THE EUROPEAN UNION 

Sustainable Development Goals: Goal 3 - Good Health and Well-being, Goal 4 - Quality Education, Goal 5 - Gender Equality, Goal 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation, Goal 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth, Goal 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, Goal 10 - Reduced Inequalities, Goal 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production Organizations Involved: CRR, Niersberger, European Union, Kabe, Stellwerk, CEC Leipzig, CM Shredders Services: Design & Engineering, Turn-Key DBC, Due Diligence, Supply Chain Management, Carbon Management, Component Supply, Operator Training

The Challenge:

Globally, the rubber and car industries generate hundreds of millions of used tyres each year. In the European Union, the waste treatment hierarchy for resource recovery and recycling takes second place as the most desirable direction after the prevention of waste.  An example of waste, which well illustrates the changes in the recovery and recycling market is used tyres. 

Every year, it's estimated worldwide that over 20 million metric tons of scrap tyres are generated. Scrap tyres are foreseen to increase steadily, at a rate in line with the increase in the number of motor vehicles. In the EU as a whole, 2017 saw around 3.4 million tons of used tyres of passenger cars generated, while figures for Poland include 275,000 tonnes (along with 200,000 tonnes of truck tyres) (Central Statistical Office, 2017). Similar data on the production of passenger car tyres in Poland are available from the European tyre and Rubber Manufacturers Association—ETRMA. The conclusion (ETRMA, 2017) would thus be that 79% of the tyres produced in Poland are recycled or recovered, with 42% becoming recycled material (granulation tyres) or retread, along with 29% going for energy recovery (burning in cement kilns). The fact that the remaining 21% of spent tyres go unused must represent great potential for the scrap tyres to gain use in other parts of the economy, such as resource recovery as is the case with a potential tyre pyrolysis solution. 

As the second-largest country in Central Europe next to Germany, Poland is also one of Europe’s largest rubber and tire manufacturing hubs within the region. However, Poland is no exception in the production of significant amounts of scrap tyres each year. Polish disposal rates (gate fees / tipping fees) for scrap tires ranged between €25-€75 per metric tonne. Current methods of disposal for waste tyres do not suffice to guarantee environmental safety, hence the prohibition on the disposal of tyres in conventional landfills. In Poland, provisions of the Act of 11 May 2001 (Journal of Laws, 2001) was put into force and in this regard requires that all tyre manufacturers recover 75% of the tonnage of manufactured tyres coming off the market, with at least 15% of that taking the form of recycling. As of now, the management of used car tyres in Poland entails material recycling (high energy granulation) and energy recovery (burning tyres in cement kilns). It's obvious that used tyres are among types of waste capable of exerting the most-severe environmental impact if new solutions are not implemented in the near term. 

The Solution:

In 2013, Carbon Resources Recovery GmbH ("CRR") of Berlin commissioned Niersberger, an EPC firm, to project manage and construct a fully continuous waste tyre pyrolysis plant. In 2014 a site was selected in Bukowno, Poland approximately 45 minutes from the city center of Katowice, Poland. 

The site was fully permitted by the CRR team and its JV partner, ReOil. The plant was funded in part from EU grants that covered a significant portion of the capital costs. The project was built in two phases with each phase consisting of two 10,000 TPA tyre pyrolysis lines for a total plant capacity of 20,000 TPA. The first phase of the plant was fully commissioned in 2015 and the second phase was complete in 2016 has been running on a 24/7 basis with 330 days of full run time since its commission date. As a result of this plant design, its operations, and process improvements, the results enabled the commercialization of the first successful installation of a fully automatic continuous process plant to use pyrolysis technology to recover carbon black in a quality that allowed it to be used as a filler in a multitude of rubber and plastics applications. 

In 2019 Klean Industries acquired 100% ownership of Carbon Resources Recovery GmbH ("CRR") and its process technology and know-how. Klean has long-term plans to roll out an additional 15 facilities in the European Union.

Benefits Realized:

The end result is the preservation of finite resources through the production of the following sustainable commodities (approximate volume):

  • Est 2 million tyres a year recycled
  • 7,600 TPA of CBk carbon black
  • 9,000 TPA of marine-grade fuel oil
  • 3,000 TPA of steel
  • 35,000 TPA of Carbon Dioxide emission offset
  • Hundreds of jobs are created in a region that requires economic development
This project addresses the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by considering the goals and associated targets illustrated by the WBCSD’s Tyre Industry Project (TIP). TIP offers a framework for action that outlines impactful pathways for the tyre sector to contribute to the ambitions of the SDGs. To learn more about how Klean's approach, solutions, and technologies contribute to advancing the SDGs please review the report called "Sustainability Driven: Accelerating Impact with the Tyre Sector SDG Roadmap". See: https://www.wbcsd.org/Sector-Projects/Tire-Industry-Project/End-of-Life-Tires-ELTs