Life Cycle Assessment: Tyre Recycling vs. Co-incineration


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Environmental company Genan is the largest tyre recycler in the world, processing up to 400,000 tonnes of end-of-life tyres (ELTs) annually. Sustainability is Genan's core value; and at Genan, we commit to striving for a sustainable future in every choice we make.

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Tyre recycling or co-incineration? Which method ensures a reduces carbon footprint?
Life Cycle Assessment is the most modern and advanced tool to describe the environmental impacts of a given choice for a product from cradle to grave.

LCA studies are widely used by politicians and environmentalists in order to provide the best possible information in the evaluation of environmental legislation and tax systems. Consequently, LCA studies must be in line with strict international standards in order to avoid manipulation by commercial or political interests.

Tyre recycling is significantly more beneficial than incineration or civil engineering applications. Two comprehensive and peer-reviewed LCA studies have been done in order to analyse the environmental impacts of different treatment methods for scrap tyres: recycling versus incineration or civil engineering applications.

9 different impact categories were researched. In 8 of the 9 impact categories (among these very important categories as Global Warming Potential, Fossil Fuel and Acidification Potential) the results were significantly more beneficial in tyre recycling compared to incineration or civil engineering applications. In 1 impact categories no difference could be measured. Results were analysed short-term as well as long-term, and both schools within LCA studies (the consequential as well as the attributional approach) were applied in parallel.

The two most common routes for disposal end-of-life tyres are granulation (the Genan route) and co-incineration (normally done in cement kilns). The positive carbon footprint by tyre recycling compared to co-incineration is minimum 1.1 tones of CO2 emissions per ton of end-of-life tyres input. A standard Genan tyre recycling facility of 70.000 tons input per year thus saves emissions of minimum 77.000 tons CO2 per year. 

In order to provide public decision makers with the best obtainable information to judge environmental aspects of different kinds of scrap tyre disposal, Genan asked IFEU (Institut für Energie- und Umweltforschung) in Heidelberg and the Copenhagen Resource Institute to work out an LCA study which compares the environmental impacts between tyre recycling and incineration as well as civil engineering applications.

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