EPA Waste Data Release, 1 Mar 2021
Latest Reference Year 2018
Waste tyres pose a threat to the atmosphere, to land, soil, water, plants and animals if they are not managed properly. Where they are dumped in our environment, they have a significant negative visual impact on our landscape.
Tyres become waste when worn-out tyres on a vehicle are replaced; and, unless reused, they become waste when the vehicle they are on is transferred to an authorised treatment facility. Our section on end-of-life vehicles provides more information on end-of-life vehicles arising in Ireland, and reuse, recycling and other recovery of this waste.
When waste tyres are collected by authorised waste collectors and transferred to authorised waste treatment facilities, very high recycling percentages can be achieved. Well-managed tyre waste therefore supports the circular economy.
To ensure that waste tyres are handled in an environmentally sound manner, a producer compliance scheme for tyres and waste tyres, operated by Repak ELT, was introduced in October 2017, underpinned by the Tyres and Waste Tyres Regulations 2017. 2018 is the first full calendar year that Repak ELT was in operation. The scheme currently only includes car and motorcycle tyres.
The EPA figures draw on multiple data sources including EPA surveys, data from the National Waste Collection Permit Office, data on exports from the National Transfrontier Shipments Office, and information from the producer compliance scheme Repak ELT. The EPA figures include data on all types of waste tyres managed in 2018 but exclude the large quantities of historic waste tyres that remain outside the waste management network, and the waste tyres that did not enter the waste management network in 2018.
The Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy includes a commitment that the tyres producer compliance scheme will be extended to include all categories of tyres provided for in the Eighth Schedule of the Tyres Regulations (passenger car, van, 4x4, truck, bus, agricultural and motorcycle tyres).
There are no statutory recycling or recovery targets set down in the Tyre Regulations, but Repak ELT is obligated to meet minimum targets by the end of 2018 and each subsequent year as part of its Ministerial approval;
- A recovery rate of 70% of all tyres collected, and
- A recycling rate of 30% of all tyres collected.
- A total of 46,501 tonnes of waste tyres were managed2 in Ireland in 20183. This represents a very significant 66 per cent increase on the 27,989 tonnes managed in 2014 (last reference year for which waste tyre data were reported by the EPA). Multiple factors are likely to have contributed to this increase in the quantity of waste tyres managed in 2018, including the establishment of the producer compliance scheme, improvements in data collection and economic factors.
- Figure 1 shows that the vast majority (94 per cent) of waste tyres managed in Ireland in 2018 were recycled (either in Ireland or abroad).
- In 2018, a clear majority of waste tyres managed in Ireland were exported for final treatment abroad (36,938 tonnes or 79 per cent of waste tyres managed), mainly to Asian countries. This compares to 12,688 tonnes, or 45 per cent, of waste tyres managed in 2014; indicating that Ireland’s reliance on export for treatment of waste tyres increased between 2014 and 2018. Of the waste tyres exported in 2018, most were recycled (79 per cent), four per cent were used as fuel and less then 1 per cent were prepared for reuse.
- There was a decrease in the tonnage of waste tyres crumbed for recycling in Ireland, from 10,000 tonnes or 35 per cent of waste tyres managed in 2014, to 9,307 tonnes or 19 per cent of waste tyres managed in 2018.
- It is reported that currently the most economically viable strategy for many Irish waste tyre treatment operators is to bale and export waste tyres for further treatment at waste tyre treatment facilities abroad.
Figure 2 shows how Irish waste tyres moved through the waste treatment network in 2018. Most waste tyres are collected by authorised waste collectors and brought to a waste facility; and, unless they are used as ballast, they are either baled or pre-treated before the final treatment step.
The most common treatment route for waste tyres in 2018 was baling at Irish waste facilities followed by export and final treatment abroad. This route was taken by 77 per cent of the waste tyres managed in 2018. Second in importance was crumbing of waste tyres followed by recycling in Ireland. This route was followed by 19 per cent of waste tyres managed in 2018.
When looking at the waste tyre management network overall, it becomes apparent that most routes lead to recycling either in Ireland or abroad: we estimate that for 43,685 tonnes, or 94 per cent, of waste tyres managed in 2018, recycling was the final treatment step. Recycled tyres are typically used in equestrian arenas, sports pitches, rubber mat products, flower beds and various other products based on demand.
 S.I. No. 400/2017 - Waste Management (Tyres and Waste Tyres) Regulations 2017. (http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2017/si/400/made/en/print)
 Waste management means the collection, transport, recovery and disposal of waste, including the
supervision of such operations and the after-care of disposal sites, and including actions taken as a dealer
 This figure excludes tyres that were exported as a part of depolluted End-of-life vehicles.
|Waste tyre final treatment activity, 2014||Quantity (tonnes)||Percentage of managed|
|Prepared for reuse||410||1%|
|Used as a fuel||2,050||4%|
|Total doesn't include waste tyres that went into storage or fines residue from waste tyre shredding|
|that went direct to landfill.|