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A second life for old tires

Disposing of tires

Information on tire disposal

Fast facts: Correctly disposing of old tires

  • Dumping old tires in landfill sites is illegal in the European Union and elsewhere.
  • Many tire dealers will recycle your scrap tires for you when you buy a new set.
  • If the tire retailer doesn’t offer a tire recycling scheme, contact a certified waste management and disposal company.

When you’re ready to dispose of your old tires, the correct and responsible course of action is to recycle them. Many tire dealers will be happy to recycle your scrap tires for you when you buy a new set. If the tire retailer doesn’t offer a tire recycling scheme, then the next option is to contact a certified waste management and disposal company. They will have a dedicated facility to ensure proper disposal of your old tires in a legally compliant and environmentally sound manner. 

In fact, Continental has a subsidiary company in Germany that does precisely that. The Reifen-Entsorgungsgesellschaft mbH (REG) has been in operation since 1992. With REG, Continental has the distinction of being the first tire manufacturer in Germany to take responsibility for the disposal of their products. The services provided by REG are regarded highly by industrial rubber-processing companies, plus many specialist tire retail chains, car dealerships, garages, communities, and private individuals.

Please note that the practice of dumping old tires in landfill sites is banned in the EU and elsewhere. In a landfill, tires can take up a significant amount of space. If they trap methane gases, there is also a risk they may become buoyant and rise to the surface. This action can rupture landfill liners, which leads to the spread of contaminants from polluting surface and groundwater.

A second life for old tires

Did you know that the cement industry makes a significant contribution to the recycling of scrap tires? Thanks to their high energy content, the waste is converted into tire-derived fuel for kilns in the cement-making process. Elsewhere, the steel and silica contained in the tires also find uses as secondary raw materials.

Material from shredded tires also finds a second life as tire-derived products. The steel and textile components are extracted and recycled separately during the shredding process. Next, the pure rubber granulate goes into the manufacture of panels to provide buildings with protection, like insulation and sealing. And as fine-particle granulate, it becomes elastic filler material on sports grounds with artificial turf.

Even finer material such as rubber powder can be used in the construction of roads, for example as an asphalt layer capable of absorbing noise.

Tire development and protecting the environment

The topic of sustainability is high on the agenda at Continental. We continually strive to make our tires more energy efficient and eco- friendly, with specialists from a wide variety of fields collaborating in the areas of research and development, testing, and production.
Their brief is to improve not just manufacturing, but also the use and recycling stages of a tire’s life cycle. The teams examine every single tire component and – where possible – propose substituting them with new materials that are more compatible with the environment.
This focus on greater sustainability has already made a positive impact on the production line at Continental. An innovative and award-winning process, the ContiLifeCycle plant, can harvest waste rubber for reuse in tire production at the same time as end-of-life truck tires are retreaded and brought back into service.
Elsewhere, we have tires for hybrid and electric vehicles that deliver a 30 percent improvement in rolling resistance over a standard tire, which helps reduce CO2 emissions. With this tire fitted, hybrid cars can travel further in electric mode without engaging the internal combustion engine. And tire developers at Continental have not compromised on safety to achieve this improved rolling resistance; the tire has EU Tire Label “A” ratings for both rolling resistance and braking distances in wet conditions.
Another one of our sustainability activities is to obtain rubber from the dandelion flower. In cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology, the objective is to use natural latex derived from the roots of the dandelion as a commercially viable substitute for natural latex from rainforest plantations.
Best of all, the dandelions can grow on land considered unsuitable for food crops, so that creating a rubber plantation adjacent to a tire plant in Central Europe makes sense both economically and ecologically. Some of the advantages of this approach are as follows:

  • Shorter transportation distances mean a substantial drop in CO2 emissions;
  • A reduction in monocultures of rubber trees in rainforest regions;
  • The tire manufacturer can protect itself from price volatility on the global rubber market.

Up to 30 percent of the rubber in a standard car tire comes from the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis), so the benefits of this alternative source are immediately apparent.

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