BUILDING A CIRCULAR TYRE RECYCLING INDUSTRY IN THE MEDITERRANEAN 

Sustainable Development Goals

Organizations Involved:
Pyrolysis Hellas, Niersberger, European Union, Leading Oil Refinery & Chemical Company 
Services:
Design & Engineering, Feasibility Study, Due Diligence, Supply Chain Management, Carbon Management, Component Supply, Operator Training

The Challenge:

In Greece, the country’s waste management situation is a major structural problem. Greece landfills the majority of its municipal waste (81 percent, compared to 31 percent for the EU-28 average), with only 16 percent being recycled (EU-28: 27 percent) and four percent composted (EU-28: 15 percent), the EU Commission stated in an Environmental Implementation Review on Greece in February 2017. Illegal landfilling, very low recycling rates, and the management of hazardous waste were criticized most. Financing seemed also to be a significant issue, particularly for areas where EU funding is not avail­­­able. But the tide has begun to change.

In 1997, Greece disposed of its waste by a number of 6,500 uncontrolled landfills. Even in May 2014, the EU Commission found out that 70 illegal landfills were still in use and 223 had been closed but not remediated. The latest figures show 20 uncontrolled, still used and 46 closed, but not sanitary landfill sites and 21 necessarily further used deposits. According to Eurostat, Greece produced 5,362,000 tons of municipal waste in 2016, of which 5,277,000 tons were treated, 4,415,000 landfilled, 698,000 tons recycled, 27,000 tons incinerated including energy recovery, and 135,000 tons composted and digested.

Under the principle of ‘extended producer responsibility, all tyre importers and vehicle importers are required to organize or participate in (enter into a contract with) an alternative waste management system. Used tyres are collected directly from the collection points, namely tyre repair stations, garages, retreading centers, and car dismantlers that are affiliated with the corresponding alternative management system of end-of-life vehicles (ELV).

Approximately, one-third of produced vehicle tyres are reused or retreaded, while the rest are classified as waste. Vehicle tyres consist mainly of elastomer-rubber, but also contain quantities of metal, such as steel and iron, at a percentage that can reach up to 15% of their weight. From the moment they are characterized as waste, used vehicle tyres can be recovered at a significant rate. Recovery is considered to be the total quantity recycled for the production of mechanical processing products, together with the amount of elastics directed towards heat recovery, whether whole or shredded at the mechanical processing facilities. 

Despite the volume of generated waste, a unified European framework for the management of waste tyres has not been established to date. In Greece, the management of waste tyres is governed by Law 2939/2001 as amended by Law 4496/2017 and currently in force, and more specifically by Presidential Decree 109/2004 on measures and conditions for the alternative management of used car tyres. Program for their alternative management 

As stipulated by the quantitative targets that have been set, by 31 June 2006, the recovery of waste tyres must cover at least 65% of tyres being retired. Within the same deadline, recycling must reach at least 10% of tyres being retired. 

In Greece it is estimated that approximately 100,000 metric tonnes of scrap tires are generated each year and approximately 47,000 to 50,000 metric tonnes of tyres are imported annually of which 43% are commercial truck tires and the rest are passenger car tyers. Under this perspective, the need for tyre recycling is a necessity. As part of the European Union, it is illegal to landfill waste tyres. In Greece, the disposal rates (gate fees / tipping fees) for scrap tires range between €25-€50 per metric tonne. The current marketplace for granulated products from shredded tyres in Greece is saturated and as such new opportunities exist from the recovery of products that have more value. 

The Solution:

Karabas European Hellenic Recycling SA (“KEHR”) was founded in 1999, and in 2021 it has developed a JV partnership with Corinth Capital, a private equity fund in Cyprus, to develop a joint venture called Pyrolysis Hellas SA ("PHS"). Currently, KEHR collects and recycles all types of scrap vehicle tyres and recycles these tyres through traditional methods by shredding tyres into rubber granules, rubber powder & shock-absorbent surfacing slabs.

PHS has partnered with Klean Industries to build a modern tyre recycling facility that encompasses a state-of-the-art scrap tyre pyrolysis plant to recycle 20,000 TPA of waste tyres into valuable chemical products. The PHS’s Environmental Impact Study for the construction and operation of a Waste Tyre Pyrolysis Plant has been approved and the corresponding Environmental License has been awarded by the competent Greek Authorities.

PHS proposes to construct and operate the said Waste Tyre Pyrolysis Plant in Mulkia at an existing industrial site that is owned by KEHR. It is envisioned that this site will be expanded with a new process building to house the new tyre pyrolysis plant used to create Recovered Carbon Black (“rCB”) and Recovered Fuel Oil (“rFO”) through a propriety carbonization process owned by Klean Industries which operates on a commercial scale. The recovery of valuable resources from used tyres, will contribute positively to the Government of Greece’s efforts in waste reduction and re-utilization, including the promotion of independent sustainable energy efforts. The PHS project will produce its raw materials according to ASTM D36 and the latest standards will be certified in accordance with ISO 9001 and 14001.

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