News

4.2 million Waste Tyres in Scotland Every Year

In Scotland there are no facilities specifically developed for the purpose of recovering or repurposing waste tyres.


100 tyres go into waste every 15 minutes in Scotland according to Scotland’s Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA). In order to address the issues of what to do with tyres once they are no use for the purpose they were once made SEPA has launched a consultation document- Tyre Sector Plan.

” Persistent non-compliance and criminal activity with respect to waste tyres is a feature of the sector that we will tackle. Illegal dumping of tyres has significant impacts on local communities, creates risks from fires and also impacts on legitimate businesses that comply with environmental law. Tackling this is our top priority for  the sector.” Terry A’Hearn, SEPA Chief Executive Officer.

SEPA wants all businesses and organisations to reduce waste and emissions. This Plan is aimed at the Tyre Sector.

The Plan looks at the whole ‘life cycle’ of tyres from their design and production through to how they are disposed of including recycling.

There are 4.2million used tyres each year 84% of them coming from light vans and passenger vehicles. In 2006 putting used tyres in landfill was banned. A tyre is made of up many different kinds of materials. This makes recovery of those materials very difficult.

tyres SEPA

A third of truck tyres are re-treads and some tyres are ground down to go into making rubberised asphalt.

The Problems

In Scotland there are no facilities specifically developed for the purpose of recovering or repurposing waste tyres.

The lack of purpose built recovery/repurposing facilities in Scotland can lead to an  escalating series of problems:

1. Garages and waste tyre producers  struggle to find legitimate outlets for waste tyres.
2. Licensed waste operators can end up with significantly more tyres than they are permitted to store.
3. Illegal fly tipping or large stockpiles impacts communities due to criminals taking money for disposal and failing to dispose of the tyres lawfully.
4. Unsecured stockpiles can be set alight – tyre fires are a major source of air pollution and a risk to human health.

In 2017 there were  15 known stockpiles of illegally  dumped tyres in Scotland that is over one million tyres that had been abandoned. This number does not include  small fly tipped piles or waste tyres stored at licensed facilities in contravention of licence conditions.

What happens to waste tyres in Scotland?

The methods used are:

  • Baling: compressing tyres using specialised machinery to produce cubes of whole tyres.
  • Shredding: the use of machinery to slice and cut whole tyres to prerequisite size.
  • Granulation: further size reduction to produce crumb of 12-15mm size.
  • Metal removal: the removal of the wire structure within a tyre as well as other non rubber material.

SEPA reports that in 2017 one of the two sites licensed to bale and shred tyres had a ‘poor’ compliance rating.

The other site was abandoned by the operator and the landowner was left responsible for removing all of the waste tyres at their own cost.

tyres wasteThe Tyre Sector Plan aims to work collaboratively with the industry and has an online survey which you can access here: Consultation SEPA would like those engaged in the sector to respond.

Reporter: Fiona Grahame


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