The European Recycling Industries’ Confederation (EuRIC) gathered more than 100 participants, from policymakers, recyclers and NGOs in Brussels on 18 April 2023 for its first conference dedicated to tyre recycling.
Many speakers called for immediate action. Poul Steen Rasmussen, President of EuRIC Mechanical Tyre Recycling (MTR) and Group CEO of Genan, stressed in his opening remarks: “Tyre recycling ticks many boxes, it saves critical resources that Europe would otherwise import, thus contributing to Europe’s strategic autonomy. It reduces the carbon and energy footprint and supports the EU’s ambition for carbon neutrality. Yet, EU policy should do more to support tyre recycling. To achieve the ambitious goals, set out in the Green Deal, it is essential that stakeholders from the entire tyre value chain work closely together to solve sustainable problems and increase the use of recycled materials from tyres in many different applications, including new tyres!”.
Emmanuel Katrakis, Secretary General of EuRIC, added: “The European tyre recycling industry needs some regulatory signals including on market access through end-of-waste criteria and improved recyclability features that do not compromise tyres’ safety. The tyre recycling industry is united behind the prioritisation of tyres within the framework of the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR)”.
One of the main topics discussed was the proposed EU ban on the use of rubber infill in artificial turf pitches. Hélène Duguy, of Client Earth, presented the NGOs’ approach, which is based on a total ban, as proposed by the European Commission. Thereafter, Juan Carlos Gonzalez Garcia, from the Instituto de Biomecanica de Valencia and Reinhold Schultz, spokesman for the Silkeborgbanen project, spoke about the implementation of Risk Management Measures (RMM) and demonstrated their effectiveness with an estimated annual release of microplastics under the limit suggested by ECHA. They concluded that the best way forward is to require the use of strict RMM that will prevent the release of microplastics immediately, rather than banning the use of rubber infill in artificial turf pitches in 8 years’ time.