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 71%. Our tire recycling rate was 87% of our total sales in 2022 (80% in 2021).
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.
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. 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.
We store hazardous waste separately at the collection points in containers that carry warning labels.
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, %
|Recovery as energy||62||69.7||56.3|
WASTE BY DISPOSAL METHOD, RUSSIA, %
|Recovery as energy||10||12.4||14.1|
|Incineration (mass burn)||0.2||0||0|
WASTE BY DISPOSAL METHOD, US, %
|Recovery as energy||18.6||6.3||9.2|
|Incineration (mass burn)||3.7||4.2|
AMOUNT OF WASTE, FI + RUS + US
|Utilized waste, t|
Mixed waste that cannot be utilized or recycled is taken to a landfill. 2022 was the first year when 100% of our production waste was sent for utilization and there was no landfill waste from production.
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 waste, t