Tyre Recycling

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  • Topic: Synthetic rubber, Tire, Recycling
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  • Published : March 8, 2012
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Tyre Recycling : The New Business on the Block
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 00:00 Nimesh Sharma Opportunities - Manufacturing -------------------------------------------------
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The number of vehicles hitting the roads is increasing everyday and so is the number of tyres. There is a business opportunity up for grabs and it’s in recycling them. With more than 33 million vehicles added to the Indian roads in last three years, can you guess the other items that would have increased manifold leading to some grave problems? Well, one of them is the tyre, one of man’s most useful inventions. Most useful, but if the increasing numbers are not managed it can be dangerous. About 80 million tyres are a part of these 33 million vehicles, which include two, three, four and six wheelers, and pose a potential threat to the environment. However, companies have innovated ways and means to curb this menace which has led to the evolution of the huge tyre recycling industry. When we had started working on this article, we thought we could count the recycled tyre uses on our fingers; which included cushioning on boats, burning for warmth in winter, swing ride seats (in rural Indian context) and at the most land-filling. However, further research and talking to industry people revealed startling facts about the uses of old tyres, which we had never imagined. In fact, in India, even the tyre recycling industry is not aware of all these uses. It’s a business opportunity glaring in front of us. In this article we have tried to find out the ground realities of the tyre recycling industry and we have also taken inputs from Dr. S N Chakravarty, KPS Consultants & Impex who is a consultant in tyre, rubber and allied industries with 40 years of experience.

Tyre composition and stages in recycling
A tyre is made of natural rubber (also called virgin rubber), Styrene-Butadiene Rubber (SBR), Polybutadiene Rubber (PBR), Carbon black, Nylon tyre cord, rubber chemicals, steel tyre cord and Butyl rubber. Stages in Recycling:

1. Crumb: Rubber Crumb is the material resulting from granulating scrap tyres into uniform rubber granules. It can be mixed with asphalt for road surfacing and making children’s playgrounds 2. Reclaimed Rubber: Reclaimed Rubber is the recycled old tyre rubber. It can be used as a substitute of natural & synthetic rubber. It is mixed with virgin rubber to further make new tyres of automobiles, bicycles and other low-cost products like footwear and mats. Virgin rubber, 90 percent of which is produced in Kerala is sold for as high Rs 140-150 per kg. Reclaimed rubber is sold for Rs 25-30 per kg and India being one of the voluminous reclaim rubber producers, the production is growing by ten percent per year. Size of the business opportunity

A typical passenger car tyre contains 24-28 percent of Carbon black, 40-48 percent of natural rubber (NR) and 36-24 percent of synthetic rubber including Styrene Butadiene Rubbers (SBR) and Butyl Rubber (BR). These need to be recovered back from tyres lest they are wasted away. Currently, India produces 90,000 metric tonnes (MT) of reclaimed rubber, which is sold at Rs 25-30/kg but does not produce Carbon black, Butyl Rubber and oil from used tyres. Now the Indian tyre industry (specifically) imported 39,000 tonnes of Carbon black and 54 percent of its Butyl Rubber requirements in 2008-09. If we could produce even a small amount of that import ourselves, we would be saving a huge amount for the exchequer. Current tyre production stands at 11.75 lakh MT for the year 2008-09. With the projected growth of 50 percent, you can easily estimate the potential of the opportunity. Present scenario

Even though it’s a 40 year old industry in India with the oldest player being Gujarat Reclaim, the number of players nationally is very small, approx 15-25 tyre recyclers in India, compared to 36 tyre manufacturers. The major players number...
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