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To provide insights into how tire recycling and pyrolysis work, what opportunities of this business are and how to start out, Weibold provides general information about the industry which you can find in our frequently asked questions.
Tire recycling enables to recover precious materials from end-of-life tires in an environment friendly manner to a) tackle the issue of enormous waste tire accumulation and b) make profit from reselling material to manufacturer of ruber goods or manufacture value-added products on your own. Scrap tires can be recycled into rubber of different sizes, ranging from rubber chips to crumb rubber and fine rubber powder. The products are of high demand in different industries. However, to establish a successful tire recycling business, one needs to account for different factors, such as minimum production capacity, value adding technologies, long-term contracts, seasonality, etc.
Pyrolysis is an age old concept. Tire Pyrolysis, however, represents a nascent market that is experiencing a boom in recent years. Its promise of significant contributions to a circular economy has globally spawned a lot of investment leading to major technological developments and new markets. As in any maturing market, these developments represent both great opportunities and significant challenges. There are many successes but also many unsubstantiated claims, misunderstood specifications, operational pitfalls and inconsistent acceptance of the products that tire pyrolysis generates.
In tire pyrolysis, oil makes up approximately 35-45% weight of output depending on type of the thermal treatment. Tire-derived pyrolysis oil with a wide distillation cut consists of three fractions with the middle distillate fraction prevailing, and it cannot be considered as an alternative blending component for commercial motor fuel, fuel oil or heating oil before a purification and additional treatment.
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As a rule, manufacture and sales of consumer goods yield higher margins than production and distribution of raw materials, and yet markets abound with opportunities in the field of molded and other value-added products from recycled rubber. The most common examples of molded goods are playground mats, flooring tiles for gyms, rubber curbs, traffic safety products, insulation panels, equine mats, carpets for cattle etc. However, one needs to keep innovating and inventing new products. Due to high supply and relatively low prices of recycled rubber in most of OECD countries given rapidly advancing technology, every year the number of molded products from recycled rubber expands.
One particular constraint for tire pyrolysis businesses involves regulatory requirements for low sulfur content in diesel and other fuels targeted by pyrolysis operators. This particular constraint holds many operations back from securing volume off-take contracts at reasonable margins. The size of the capital expenditures also comes into play – tire pyrolysis equipment prices range from EUR 60.000 to 25 million. And in order to build a successful operation, further investments may be needed. The need for controlling quality and consistency of waste tire feedstock, fuel oil requirements and CB buyer product specifications most often mandate additional pre- and post-pyrolysis treatment steps.