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How to decide if a material is waste or not – advice for organisations such as businesses, local authorities and charities.

Around 35,000 tonnes of waste tyres are produced in Wales each year. Waste tyres are banned from landfill except bicycle tyres and large earth-moving tyres.

Tyres can be reused by retreading, and the market for this is mature. However, most tyres are not suitable for retreading.

Popular options for the recycling of waste tyres are:

  • shredded tyres used in road surfacing applications
  • shredded tyres used to create impact absorbent surfaces (ie. on playgrounds)
  • baled whole tyres used in construction applications (ie. in the construction of retaining walls, or flood defences).

Some tyres are used in waste recovery instead of being recycled. Tyres have been used in the UK as an extra fuel for cement kilns, or for the recovery of energy in advanced combustion facilities. New uses of tyres are being explored, for example conversion into liquid fuels (such as diesel). However, there are no operating plants in the UK at the current time.

In the UK in 2010:

  • just over 30% of waste tyres were turned into crumb
  • 18% were used in energy recovery
  • nearly 20% were re-used (in the UK or abroad)
  • 16% were specifically used in landfill engineering 
  • 11% were re-treaded.

Due to the high cost of managing waste tyres, there have been high profile incidents in England and Wales concerning their inappropriate management. They are also a common part of flytipping incidents. Natural Resources Wales are working with the police, local authorities and other stakeholders to tackle such incidents.