A meeting promoted by Ecopneus to stimulate a discussion about the future of the chain of ELTs has been held in Rome. It has followed the recent European ruling on synthetic turf football pitches, with reference to the evolution of the international scenario and the opportunities deriving from chemical recycling.
Spreading of rubberised asphalts, issuing of the Minimum Environmental Requirements (MERs) for roads, promotion of the chemical recycling of ELTs (pyrolysis) and a Ministerial round table to support this path: strong and concrete requests for the future of the ELT chain.
The sector of ELT recycling presents its proposals for supporting the future of the circular economy in Italy and the one of the industrial chain of ELTs spread all over the Italian territory.
Facing a national market that is not able to absorb and valorise the amounts of ELT-derived recycled rubber produced every year, Ecopneus has been working on several alternatives for long. To this aim, Ecopneus invests about 2 million euros in Research and Investment every year. It also invests in communication and awareness-raising activities: over 20 million since the setting up of its activities in 2011. The work of the companies of the ELT chain is to be added to this, as they must understand and react to the evolving scenario and the market of reference of recycled rubber.
The recent ruling of the European Commission has further accelerated the renovation process the sector has had in mind for a long time.
The restriction proposal approved in Brussels on 26th April will be analysed and voted by the European Council and Parliament in the next two months. This restriction will ban the use of 0.5 mm recycled rubber granules as infill in synthetic turf sports surfaces after a transition period of 8 years.
It is a market that currently absorbs about 40% of the recycled rubber granules in Europe. Rubber granules are currently used in about 5,000 sports installations all over Italy – 1600 of which have been homologated by the Amateurs’ National League. As such, they comply with the most advanced technical and sustainability requisites. This applies also to what concerns the reduction of infill dispersion risk. The infill is usually composed of recycled rubber granules.
Facing the fact that the market will stop absorbing recycled rubber well before the 8 years’ transition period, Ecopneus has turned its attention to the strategies that can – and must – be put in place to support the chain of ELT recycling and the valorisation or recycled rubber in Italy, supporting the opening to new market flows.
Ecopneus and Unirigom have organised the convention “The future of Italy’s economy: as circular as a tyre – New perspectives for the ELT chain, strategic for the national and global sustainability objectives” that has been held in Rome today. The aim is to present proposals and concrete requests for the future of a chain that has always had a strategic role for the national and global sustainability objectives.
REVISION OF THE CURRENT “END OF WASTE” DECREE FOR VULCANISED RUBBER GRANULES
The aim is that a new decree may welcome and support innovation and technological development in ELT recycling starting from the new recycling opportunities offered by pyrolysis. Indeed, as of today, the decree defines a limited range of possible uses for recycler rubber. This effectively cuts out the new opportunities born out of research and development of the sector, such as pyrolysis, that are already concrete in other foreign markets.
SUPPORT TO THE CHEMICAL RECYCLING OF ELTS
The process of pyrolysis of recycled rubber allows to obtain oils and carbon black. These can be used in the production of new tyres, thus closing the ELT-recycling circle.
It is, thus, extremely important to have Granular Vulcanised Rubber classified as material that can be used in pyrolysis processes, eliminating the “waste recovery” definition for this process. Moreover, the elaboration of a clear and single national process for the authorisation of ELT pyrolysis plants is of uttermost importance in order to assure clear and certain timetables for all subjects involved.
USE OF RUBBERISED ASPHALTS
The valorization of recycled rubber is strategic and urgent for Italy. Rubberized asphalt offers a concrete support to the Italian road network thanks to its sustainability, quality, safety and durability. This implies also savings for the Public Administration thanks to lower road maintenance costs. The tools:
- Obligation to use low noise emission surfaces on all main and secondary urban roads (categories “D” and “E” as defined in par 2, article 2 of the Presidential Decree n 142, of 30th March 2004) with the aim of reducing noise pollution in urban environment
- Urgent issuance of the Decree on MERs for roads, which is currently being revised. It is an important tool to help the PA with their choices and, as a consequence, it may help the diffusion of rubberized asphalts.
AN INTERMINISTERIAL ROUND TABLE FOR THE CHAIN OF ELTs
An Interministerial round table for the chain of ELTs would aim at following and supporting the reaching of the set targets within deadlines adequate to market needs.
End-of-Life Tyres are an important resource that supports a vital chain for Italy’s circular economy. The national system for the tracing, collection and recycling of ELTs currently manages about 400,000 tonnes of automobile, truck and motorbike tyres every year.
These tyres are turned into precious reusable material – recycled rubber – that can be used not only in sports applications, rubberized asphalts, anti-shock surfaces and anti-vibration systems, but also for the production of energy in cement factories, both in Italy and abroad.
The deputy Minister of the Environment and Energy Security, Ms Vannia Gava, stated:
“the Government and the Ministry of the Environment are committed to greater environmental, social and financial sustainability. We have immediately listened to the demands of the sector and started a revision of the End of Waste Decree for ELTs. This will allow greater flexibility in the use of recycled rubber. The new version of the Decree will include new markets we hope will be able to replace the one of sports infill. Moreover, the MERs for roads will include the minimum obligatory requirements for the use of materials derived from ELTs in bituminous conglomerates in order to increase their durability and resistance, thus complying with a growing demand of greater commitment to recycling and the circular economy in Italy. The funds coming from the PNRR will also contribute towards the achievement of these goals”.
Federico Dossena, General Manager of Ecopneus, stated: “As always, the challenges we are facing are an opportunity for Ecopneus to improve the recovery system of ELTs. We ask our technical and institutional stakeholders to follow this work and support the journey we are about to start with all necessary regulatory interventions. The objectives of Italy’s sustainability and circular economy are the aims of our commitment and the Institutions are the main bodies responsible for them. Rubberized asphalts and chemical recycling of ELTs are crucial elements. We ask all our stakeholders to do their part for the reaching of these goals with clear and concrete actions”