Recycling tires and waste

Recycling tires and waste

Luckily for the environment, discarded tires are not worthless and can be re-used.

Approximately 3.3 million tons of used tires are discarded each year in Europe. Discarded tires are not worthless and can serve various reuse or recycling applications. Among other things, the tires can be used in noise barriers along motorways or as an elastic base material in horseback riding arenas.

If tires are not appropriately recycled, they will end up in the environment or pile up in garages. The recycling rate of tires in Finland is high compared to many other countries: nearly 100%.

In 1995, Nokian Tyres and other companies in the tire industry established the Finnish Tire Recycling Ltd in order to promote the centralized collection and utilization of tires nationally. In Finland, nearly 100% of tires are recycled. In all of Europe the figure is 95%. The rest of the tires are taken to landfills.

In the US, the tire recycling rate of collected tires is 76%. Our tire recycling rate was 80% of our total sales in 2021 (85% in 2020). 

Re-use as material or energy

Part of recycled tires is utilized for material; they are shredded or granulated to replace rock materials in various road construction and civil engineering applications. Rubber chips are light, insulate moisture, and maintain their form. They support the road surface and make asphalt quieter. The flexible properties of rubber are put to use once more when it is reused as a base material for sports venues.

Retreading is one of the best recycling methods. If the carcass of a tire is undamaged, it can be retreaded. Bus and truck tires, for example, can be retreaded up to 2–4 times.

Another way to utilize recycled tires is to combust them for energy, as the heating value of tires is close to that of oil. The use of recycled tires as an energy source has been growing for years and, today, approximately half of the tires recycled in Europe are used in waste-to-energy applications.

As one of the original founders of Finnish Tire Recycling Ltd we are involved in their work of looking for new ways to recycle and utilize tires.

Recyclability of tires (PDF)

WASTE CAN BE DIVIDED IN THREE CATEGORIES

The most significant environmental impacts of our locations come from waste and energy consumption. 

Waste is generated both in our actual production and support functions. The generated waste can be roughly divided into three categories: landfill waste or non-recyclable waste, recyclable waste, and hazardous waste.

We weigh all production waste and record the department-specific volumes on a monthly basis. For other types of waste, we prepare reports annually. The waste volumes are determined in weighing by waste management companies. We sort the generated waste at our factories in accordance with separate waste management instructions. Most of the production waste is taken directly to be utilized.

We store hazardous waste separately at the collection points in containers that carry warning labels.

RECYCLABLE WASTE

The utilization rate of our production waste has been growing for years. Scrap tires, or tires that do not meet our high standards of quality, are taken to recycling directly from production.

Non-vulcanized scrap rubber is generated in the production stages preceding vulcanization or curing. These material’s reuse applications include impact padding, conveyor belts, and other rubber products that do not have as critical material requirements as tires.

Other generated recyclable waste categories include combustible waste, plastics, scrap iron and steel, wood, paper, biodegradable waste, cardboard, glass and electrical and electronic equipment.

WASTE BY DISPOSAL METHOD, FINLAND, %
  2019 2020 2021
Reuse 8.2 1.8 1.0
Recycling 73.8 34.7 28.2
Composting 1.9 1.5 1.2
Recovery as energy 16.1 62 69.7
Landfill 0 0 0
WASTE BY DISPOSAL METHOD, RUSSIA, %
  2019 2020 2021
Reuse 5.1 8.5 6.6
Recycling 76.4 75.5 81
Composting 0 5.2 0
Recovery as energy 8.5 10 12.4
Incineration (mass burn) 0.2 0.2 0
Landfill 9.8 0.7 0
WASTE BY DISPOSAL METHOD, US, %
  2019 2020 2021
Reuse   0 7.7
Recycling   80.4 82.1
Composting   0 0
Recovery as energy   18.6 6.3
Incineration (mass burn)     3.7
Landfill   1 0.2
AMOUNT OF WASTES, FI + RUS + US
  2019 2020 2021
Utilization, %      
Finland 100 100 100
Russia  90 99 100
US   99 96
Utilized wastes, t      
Finland 5,400 4,100 4,400
Russia  10,000 9,100 10,320
US   1,100 3,860
Landfilling, t      
Finland 0 0 0
Russia  1,100 80 0
US   10 6.3

 

LANDFILL WASTE

Mixed waste that cannot be utilized or recycled is taken to a landfill. We aim to further reduce the amount of landfill waste by sending the waste that we generate to recycling and utilization and our aim is that no waste goes to landfill but is reutilized. In 2021, 100% of factory waste in Finland, 99% in Russia and 96,1% in the US was sent to reutilization. 

HAZARDOUS WASTE

We take all hazardous waste to an authorized processing plant. Roughly a third of this waste is seal oil from compound mixing machines, whose consumption is directly proportional to the manufactured rubber compound volumes. All hazardous waste generated in our Finnish factory is utilized as energy or as raw materials.

According to the US legislation, no materials that could be classified as hazardous were produced at the US factory.

Hazardous wastes, t
  2019 2020 2021
Finland 194 158 226
Russia 955 713 1,214
US   0 0
Retreading   0.5 0.8
Levypyörä   288 258